|Karim (sixth left), Sivapragasam (fourth left), MMAA patron Datuk Seri Dr V Pulainthiran (fifth right) and acting Sarawak Sports Corporation CEO Gordon Hon (third right) with the award recipients and honorees.|
KUCHING: With RM30 billion in the state reserves, Sarawak will be able to host more sports events at Asian, international or world level.
Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the reserves can be used to build and develop sports facilities to host these high-level championships.
“It is our vision to become a sports powerhouse in the country and that is why we are building many sports facilities that are of world standard,” he said during the welcoming dinner for participants of the Malaysian International Open Masters Athletics Championship at a local hotel on Saturday.
Karim said the various international sports events will help to further promote the tourism industry in the state.
“That’s why I am looking at sports as one of the main ways to attract tourists to Sarawak,” he explained.
In this connection, Karim said the state government is currently negotiating with several airline companies to increase air connectivity to Sarawak.
“God willing, by the end of this year we hope to bring in more flights to Sarawak especially when we play host to Asia Masters Athletics Championship 2019 and the World Para Aquatic Games if our bids are successful,” he added.
Earlier, Malaysian Masters Athletics Association (MMAA) secretary S Sivapragasam, who is also secretary of Asia Masters Athletics Association (AMA), commended Sarawak for playing a good host to the Malaysian International Open Masters Athletics Championship.
“This is the first time that the championship has the most number of participants of 700 even though Sarawak is hosting it for the first time.
“Congratulations to the Sarawak government for helping us to organise this event successfully,” he added.
Meanwhile, two ex-Olympians Watson Nyambek from Sarawak and Ajit Singh from Singapore were honoured by MMAA for their participation in the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics (Watson) and the 1956 Melbourne Olympics (Ajit).
Incentives and trophies were also presented to masters athletes Aliudin Jumaat from Sabah who won a silver and Thomas Kok, Tani Clace Sebastian and Suresh Kumar for winning the team silver in the 10km walk at the World Masters Indoor Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea in March this year.
A special award was presented to 87-year old Marie Rorek of Indonesia who has been taking part in the Malaysian Open Masters for the past 25 years without fail. -TheBorneoPost