KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Paralympians who won medals at the London and Beijing Games will be given lifetime pensions on par with able-bodied athletes within two months, said Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
“We’re backdating this allowance to all past medalists at the Paralympic Games,” he said.
At the last London Paralympic Games in 2012, archer Hasihin Sanawi won silver in the individual recurve for the W1 category while Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli bagged bronze in shot putt.
Before Khairy was appointed as minister, the old incentives scheme for athletes at the Paralympics was RM300,000 for gold, RM200,000 for silver and RM100,000 for bronze.
Since he assumed the post of Youth and Sports Minister in 2013, Khairy has ensured that all athletes, whether they are able-bodied or para-athletes, receive equal rewards.
The minister was speaking with reporters here today at a high tea session with the Malaysian para-athletes contingent. Led by chef-de-mission Dr Ang Kean Koo, Malaysia's 21 athletes will fly off tomorrow for the Rio Paralympics 2016 in Brazil.
Scheduled from September 7 to 18, the 2016 Paralympic Games at Rio will be held in the same location as the Olympic Games thanks to longstanding rapport between the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.
As the Rio Olympics came to an end with the celebratory closing ceremony, a week ago, Brazil is, once again, welcoming athletes from all over the world. More than 4,000 para-athletes from over 160 countries are flying in to Rio to compete in 22 different sports.
To date, Malaysia has yet to win a gold medal in the Olympics or the Paralympics. Khairy, has thrown the challenge to the paralympians to bring back a gold medal.
Since August 2013, Khairy has enforced equal opportunities for all athletes, whether they achieved podium positions at the Rio Olympics or Paralympics.
"I have already delivered on my promise since 2013 and I will certainly deliver if we get a Paralympic gold. Those who win a gold medal in Rio will get RM1 million," said Khairy.
Under the National Sports Council’s incentive scheme, a gold medal winner at the Rio Paralympics will receive a one-off RM1 million reward. Silver and bronze medalists will receive RM300,000 and RM100,000, respectively. These are in addition to lifetime pensions of RM5,000, RM3,000 and RM2,000.
At the more recent 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships held in Doha, Qatar, Malaysian sprinter Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Puzi and long jumper Abdul Latif Romly did Malaysia proud by winning gold medals.
Ridzuan clocked a personal best of 11.18 seconds in the men’s 100m in the T36 category, while Abdul Latif leapt 7.35m for a new meet record in the T20 category.
The only national swimmer selected to compete at the Rio Paralympics is Jamery Siga.
Stricken with cerebral palsy since he was six-years-old, a condition that left him with restricted use of his right leg and left hand, 30-year-old Jamery has made considerable achievements, having represented Malaysia in the London 2012 Paralympics.
Jamery, a Sarawakian, will compete in the 50m, 100m S5 freestyle and the 50m butterfly events. He took up swimming competitively in 2003 before he was picked to represent Malaysia in 2009.
Jamery’s personal best in the 50m butterfly event is 38 seconds. He is aiming for finals at Rio.
“I have stepped up my training since the London Games. My timing has improved. I hope to slash my timing further in Rio. I will try my best for my family and my country," he said.