Suhairi eyes further success

Suhairi Suhani is all smiles after being greeted at Changi Airport yesterday by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin.
Suhairi Suhani is all smiles after being greeted at Changi Airport yesterday by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

After a credible showing at his first Paralympics where he finished eighth and hit a new personal best, long jumper Suhairi Suhani is hoping to use that experience in Rio as a launch pad to greater heights.

The 19-year-old, who is intellectually impaired, cleared 6.69m - a 27cm improvement on his season best - in Brazil. While he finished almost a metre behind Malaysian gold medallist Abdul Latif Romly (new world record of 7.60m) in the T20 final, there was plenty of room for improvement.

Said Suhairi's coach Muhamad Hosni: "We are looking long term for him to do well in the Asian Para Games, Commonwealth Para Games, and the next Paralympics. He hasn't fully developed yet. He can definitely go further with the right support and mentality."

The Delta Senior School student won silver at last year's Asean Para Games on home soil and his 6.69m effort in Brazil would be good enough for silver at the 2014 Asian Para Games.

He was also the youngest member of Singapore's record 13-man Paralympic contingent and the first to return home.

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"It was a very good experience because the stadium was a full house and the crowds cheered very loudly but I stayed confident and kept my nerves down. It was crazy in the stadium, I won't forget that," Suhairi said yesterday at Changi Airport, where he was welcomed by Minister for Social and Family Development and Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin and officials from the Singapore Disability Sports Council.

He added: "I'm still young. It's off-season now for me until next year so I need to gain weight and put on more muscles. I'm looking forward to coming back to training and improving more."

Jean Iau

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'Suhairi eyes further success'. Print Edition | Subscribe