SINGAPORE – The first athlete of the Team Singapore contingent competing at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics has returned to Singapore.
Long jumper Suhairi Suhaini, 19, the youngest athlete in the country's record 13-man team, touched down in Singapore early Wednesday morning (Sept 14) with his coach Muhamad Hosni.
He completed a personal best jump of 6.69m – 27cm further that his season best of 6.42m – to finish eighth in the men's long jump T20 final. Malaysian Abdul Latif Romly took the gold in a new world record of 7.60m while Zoran Talic from Croatia and Dmyto Prudnikov from Ukraine took the silver and bronze medal respectively.
Suhairi, an Asean Para Games silver medallist who is intellectually impaired, was greeted by officials from the Singapore Disability Sports Council at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3.
He later told The Straits Times: "It was a very good experience because the stadium was a full house and the crowds cheered very loud but I stayed confident and kept my nerves down. It was crazy in the stadium, I won't forget that.
"I'm still young, 19 years old. It's off-season now for me so I need to gain weight and put on more muscles. I'm looking forward to coming back to training and improving more."
His coach Hosni praised his performance as they focus on building from this experience to further his long jump career.
The 44-year-old, a former national sprinter, said: "He knows what the atmosphere is like now and where he stands. (Romly) is hitting 7.60m so it's a bit far but you never know what (Suhairi) can achieve in the next few years.
"We are looking long term for him to do well in the Asian Para Games, Commonwealth Para Games, and the next Paralympic Games, beyond next year's Asean Para Games (in Kuala Lumpur)."