Monday, April 21, 2008


22 intellectually disabled athletes conquer Mount Kinabalu


Twenty- two intellectually disabled (ID) athletes successfully conquered the majestic Mount Kinabalu during the 4th Special Olympics Mount Kinabalu Challenge on April 18-19. They reached the summit of the highest mountain in South East Asia at 4,095.2m on the first daybreak on April 19. The remaining 18 of the 40- member group settled at Laban Rata at 3,314. 3m a day before. Organising Chairman Dr Liaw Yun Haw was pleased with the encouraging achievement since it was the first time all the athletes had at least reached Laban Rata. In the last three attempts, according to Liaw, some athletes changed their mind and turned back midway through the journey. “All the athletes were very excited about the trip and I think they have pushed themselves to the limit. Some of them could not continue the trek to the summit because they had run out of steam,” he said when met during ! the closing ceremony of the event on Sunday night. He said that all the participants did not encounter difficulties despite facing drizzle on the first day “Except for the occasion of mountain sickness but it is very common,” he added. Liaw went on to say that no new record was set because of the small group of athletes sent due to limited accommodation in Sabah Parks. “I was also made to understand that some of the overseas teams could not come because they were having some financial constraint since a lot was spent to take part in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China last year. “Furthermore, they need to seek sponsorship as well to come here,” he said. During the trip, the athletes were accompanied by more than 50 volunteers, including invited observers from Australia and Special Olympics Malaysia, as well as three VIP guests from Total Sports Asia Ltd. “We hope to have more foreign delegates to join us in the next three years. We have an Australian with us this time and we hope next time more of them will come,” he said. Dr Liaw also expressed his gratitude to the donors, contributors and supporters of the event because without their backing the trip would not be possible. Event Coordinator Raymond Epun said the fitness of the athletes had improved year by year which saw all of them reaching at least Laban Rata this time. “The athletes took their stride 1 very fast and all of them arrived at Laban Rata before the cut off time at 12. 30pm. After taking a night rest, we continued our ascent to the mountain in the wee hours at 2am and all of them arrived at the summit between 6am-6.40am and by 7am we started to descent from the mountain,” he said. “The weather was very good on that day and we did not have to use torch light because it was full moon and it was not so windy too,” he said.