MIRI: The contributions and sacrifices of veteran state athletes must never be forgotten.
The call was made by Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah who said these athletes had to overcome hardships and difficulties.
“In applauding today’s heroes like Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Datuk Nicol David and Pandelela Rinong Pamg, sometimes we tend to overlook the contributions by our sports legends who achieved their triumphs during a time when there was limited or no facility at all.
“I believe that it is the responsibility of all – the government including my ministry, the media, the NGOs and, most importantly, the sports associations – to be aware of the welfare and wellbeing of our veteran athletes, especially those who are no longer able to be active in their games.
“I know that these veteran sportsmen and sportswomen did not do it for the money; to them, it’s all about state and national pride. This said, we all must not let them live in poverty. In fact, I call upon all the associations to ‘put a little bit of pressure’ upon the government in finding ways to help these individuals.
“As far as my ministry is concerned, our doors are always open for suggestions,” he said during the just concluded 52nd annual Mr Sarawak bodybuilding championships at Boulevard Shopping Mall here.
Abdul Karim’s call was made in response to the proposed Asean-level bodybuilding tournament in Sarawak by the end of this year.
Sarawak Bodybuilding Association (SBBA) president Dato Wee Hong Seng had mentioned the proposed event while suggesting it be called ‘Bujang Taha Classic,’ to honour state bodybuilding legend and two-time Mr Asia who passed away on Oct 12, 2014 at the age of 77.
Abdul Karim remarked: “We celebrate Pandelela’s achievements by naming the aquatics centre in Kuching after her. As such, I applaud the move to hold an Asean tournament named after Bujang Taha – the name that I grew up with.
“However, don’t stop there. What the associations and NGOs could do is to set up a fund slated for these veteran athletes. The government will help out not only through its own allocations, but also by engaging the corporate sector which in turn, could include this under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes,” he said.
Later, Abdul Karim presented tokens of appreciation to six local ‘sports legends’ comprising veteran bodybuilding judges Ajis Sipin, Samad Alif and Chee Yee Toh; former Miri Division Bodybuilding Association (PBBBM) president Dr Julian Jolly; former state bodybuilder George Polo; and Norfariza Mortadza – the only woman recipient who bagged the silver medal for Malaysia at this year’s Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) Eighth Para-Powerlifting World Cup tournament in Dubai.
It is learned that Chee Yee Toh is suffering from cancer and could not attend the event.
On this, Abdul Karim assured Allen Chee – who was present at the ceremony on his father’s behalf – that the ministry would do all it could to help.
The assistant minister was accompanied to the stage by Miri deputy mayor Julaihi Mohamad, current PBBBM president Jamilah Ibrahim, Sibu Division Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Association president Chia Soon Cheong and SBBA vice-president George Awi William. -TheBorneoPost