Saturday, July 18, 2009

Disabled want other runs to include category

PARALYMPIAN Mat Sani Kasbun has urged local road race organisers to include a category for the disabled as well as the wheelchair-bound.
The 43-year-old Mat Sani, who won the men’s wheelchair category in the Seremban Half Marathon (SHM), said disabled athletes were often not given the opportunity to be involved in “We have won medals in international competitions. Malaysia is a developing nation but the needs of the disabled are forgotten. In the sporting arena, there are few events for the disabled community.
“As a Negri-born athlete, I am proud the SHM had included the disabled community from its inception in 1987. Why don’t other runs like the Ipoh Half Marathon and the Penang Bridge Run follow suit?,” he asked.
Mat Sani, a father of two, had not missed the SHM but hoped the wheelchair event would be extended to 10km distance or 21km.
“Although we are grateful to the organisers for including us, we could do with a more challenging race.
“In the past, I have participated in marathons in Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. In fact, I have often managed to come within the top 10,” he said.
Husband-and-wife team Anthony Martin and Chow Mei Hsia, both disabled athletes, who had represented the country, shared Mat Sani sentiments.
“We look forward to participating in these events but sadly we don’t have as many options as our able-bodied friends,” said Chow, who won the first place in the women’s wheelchair category.
Martin finished behind Mat Sani. The SHM is one of the few runs in the country with categories for the disabled, mentally-challenged, wheelchair-bound and the partially blind, deaf and dumb.the mainstream sporting events.