Yeoh hopes Special Olympics will spur interest in para sports

PETALING JAYA: Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh hopes national athletes' participation at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin (June 17-25) will encourage more disabled people to take up sports.

Malaysia will send 22 athletes to Germany to compete in six sports — athletics, swimming, badminton, bowling, bocce and table tennis.

The Special Olympics is a competition for intellectually impaired athletes, but also features unified sports categories where the athletes can pair up with regular athletes.

"The National Sports Council (NSC) has allocated RM160,000 to assist the contingent, but they also have a number of corporate sponsors," said Yeoh after officiating the flag-handing ceremony at Sunway University today.

"Today we handed them the Jalur Gemilang and I want them to know that the nation is fully behind them.

"Hopefully, what they are doing will encourage more participation (in disabled sports) in Malaysia."

Special Olympics Malaysia president Lam Saw Yin said the athletes were selected based on their performance during the national games last year.

"We will send 16 special athletes and 6 unified partners, who are regular athletes," said Lam.

"In the Special Olympics, the emphasis is on participation with a focus on gaining experience, confidence and friendship.

"Of course they want to win medals, all athletes do. If they can win gold, silver or bronze that would be a bonus for them."

National athletes won one gold, five silver and four bronze at the 2019 edition of the games in Abu Dhabi.

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