Friday, March 07, 2014

Para athletes get new home

NATIONAL para athletes finally have a place of their own to call home following the official launch of the Malaysian Paralympic Excellence Centre in Kampung Pandan yesterday.

Built at a cost of RM50 million by the government, the centre offers state-of-the-art facilities for training and competition. Capable of housing 300 athletes at a time, the centre also boasts of an eight-lane 50-metre swimming pool, an archery range and indoor venues for goalball, basketball and badminton.

Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said with the completion of the facility, the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia, a new chapter will be written in the history of para sports in the country.

"With more athletes involved in Paralympic sports, a place of their own was very much needed," he said during yesterday's launch which was also attended by former prime minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah, the Malaysian Paralympic Council patron.
"Tun Jeanne saw the need for a home for Paralympic athletes and it was her vision which led to the development of the facility," said Khairy.

"This project did not happen overnight and took a long time to reach this point but we now have the most advanced Paralympic sports facility in Southeast Asia."

With the completion of the Kampung Pandan venue, national para athletes no longer need to jostle with able-bodied athletes for use of facilities at the National Sports Centre in Bukit Jalil.
"Our athletes will be able to hold centralised training here and develop more consistent and structured training programmes," said Jeanne.

Khairy added that the MPC, the National Sports Council and National Sports Institute will jointly manage a programme called "Inspire' to uncover para athletes at the grassroots level.
"This programme will help unearth talent at the grassroots level across the country. Camps will be held in 119 districts and 30 athletes from each district will be drafted into a two-day camp called i-Talent.

"From here, 1,400 athletes will be shortlisted for the i-Train camp which will identify sports they are suited to."

The adjoining Kampung Pandan Sports Centre will also be developed in tandem with a plan to commercialise part of the area.

"An open tender will be called to commercialise the area with the condition that the field and the running track also be developed," said Khairy. By Devinder Singh

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