2015 Asean Para Games

Asean Para Games: Malaysia's Ras Adiba Radzi swops mike and make-up for rifle and pellets

Ras Adiba Radzi is not just a familiar face but a para-athlete who was Malaysia's sole representative in the shooting competition at the APG.
Ras Adiba Radzi is not just a familiar face but a para-athlete who was Malaysia's sole representative in the shooting competition at the APG.PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Few para-athletes enjoy a high profile, remaining largely unheralded no matter how fine their feats.

Ras Adiba Radzi, in contrast, has been a presence in Malaysians' living rooms since the age of 18, so much so that midway through this interview at Marina Bay Sands, a Malaysian athlete whom she had never met approached to request a wefie with the newscaster.

At the Asean Para Games (APG) however, Ras swopped her mike and make-up for rifle and pellets. She was Malaysia's sole shooting representative, competing in the R3 10m air rifle prone mixed SH1 event although she failed to qualify for the final after encountering equipment failure.

The 47-year-old had picked up shooting in 2003, after a fall at home caused her to be paralysed from the waist down.

Prior to that, she had been involved in a car crash on the way home from the Malaysia Cup final at Shah Alam in 1995. It was an accident that caused her to suffer constant back pain over the next few years. Her condition was further exacerbated after an attempted robbery by group of men outside her mother's house in Cheras in 2001.

She told The Straits Times: "Being disabled was very tough, for 11/2 years I couldn't understand why things happened this way.

"Every day I just asked God to bring me home because I just didn't know to handle not being able to do the stuff that I used to do."

But then she decided she was not going to be left behind. She tried handcycling marathons, going swimming and playing badminton, before her first foray into shooting.

She said: "I like the competitiveness and challenging myself. When I'm able to do sports, I put all my anger or frustration into something that is beneficial."

But despite her never-say-die attitude, nothing prepared her for her return in front of the screen in 2008 after almost six years off the air. She said: "I have a poker face but at that time, it was just so much. (It was after) six years of waiting and being looked down on."

TV work involves a different sort of shooting but Ras said her newscasting experience actually helped her at the range by refining her ability to tune out the surroundings.

She explained of her two passions: "I like the discipline, the precision, to focus on something and block everything else out."

She has juggled both work and shooting commitments, shooting twice a week and taking a month's hiatus before the APG to focus full time on her event. Ras works from home as an independent TV producer, is a novelist and avid singer.

The animated livewire has never shied away from speaking about her disability, whether on or off camera.

Said Ras, who reads the news twice weekly for Malaysian channel NTV7: "The producers asked, 'Would you mind if audiences saw you in the full frame?' I said, 'Are you kidding, of course I wouldn't mind. I would be so happy.'

"My PWD (persons with disabilities) friends are ecstatic. When they see one of them up there, they feel that at least people are giving us some attention and are listening and taking us seriously."

NO SHAME

The producers asked, 'Would you mind if audiences saw you in the full frame?' I said, 'Are you kidding, of course I wouldn't mind. I would be so happy.'

RAS ADIBA RADZI

Along with her TV appearances, she has also championed the same cause through different means. Ras is a record holder in the Malaysian Book of Records for her 14-day, 420-km trip in her wheelchair from Johor to Kuala Lumpur in 2003.

She is also the committee adviser of Perwira K9, a support group that helps with the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries.

Her condition has given her a new take on life. She said: "What you don't know, you don't care. I was always active, out and about, so I didn't know how it felt like to be a full-fledged disabled person.

 "You have to seize the moment in everything you do, as it's not going to come back again."

Despite her APG disappointment, Ras still harbours hopes of juggling a successful professional career and being one of Asia's top para-shooters.

With a wry smile, she said: "Life doesn't end when something crazy happens. You have to work around it and you have to rise.

"The word impossible does not exist, we created it because we are just too lazy to try."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2015, with the headline 'Ras swops mike and make-up for rifle and pellets'. Print Edition | Subscribe