Paralympics gold haul a wake-up call’

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PETALING JAYA: Paralympian Law King Kiew regards Malaysia’s outstanding performance at the Rio Paralympics as a wake-up call for the government and the general public to give equal support to disabled and able-bodied athletes.

Speaking to FMT, Law said there was a need to bring about a mindset change, especially among decision-makers in Malaysian sports.

“Over the years, the government has spent billions of ringgit on able-bodied athletes, but the same has not be done for disabled athletes,” she said.

“Our Paralympians have now shown that they can deliver. We should build on this by allocating equal resources.”

Law, who represented Malaysia in powerlifting in the Sydney Paralympics in 2000, said the government should ensure there was no discrimination of disabled athletes in both the public and private arenas.

She said the government needed to provide better access and disabled-friendly facilities in all districts nationwide while ensuring that private gyms did not discriminate against the disabled by barring wheelchair users.

“I want to see an inclusive society in terms of facilities, education and support for disabled athletes,” she added.

Law complained that “appointed decision-makers” had in the past refused to give due recognition to disabled athletes.

“There were those who felt disabled athletes should not get the same rewards as Olympians,” she said. “These are people who have never competed in any sports as disabled persons but talk as if they know the challenges we go through.”

Recently, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin disclosed that he had pushed for parathletes to get rewards equal to those given to regular athletes.

Prior to this, parathletes received only 30% of the allowances paid to regular athletes.