Joseph Schooling among Asean Olympic champions to get free flights for life from AirAsia

AirAsia's chief executive announced that all Asean athletes who won gold medals in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will get free flights for life.
AirAsia's chief executive announced that all Asean athletes who won gold medals in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will get free flights for life.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/TONY FERNANDES

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia is giving out free flights for life to all Asean athletes who won gold medals "for making us dream and believe".

Its chief executive officer Tony Fernandes announced that while gold medallists would be entitled to free flights for life, silver and bronze medallists would also be rewarded but did not specify what they would receive.

"What an Olympics this was for Asean. AirAsia, which has its roots in Asean, wants to reward those who gave us so much joy," said Fernandes on his Facebook page on Wednesday (Aug 24).

"Also, they taught and reminded us never to give up on your dreams and never stop believing you can be the best in the world," he added.

Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling, Thai weightlifters Sukanya Srisurat and Sopita Tanasan, Indonesian badminton duo Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad and Vietnamese sports shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh are among the Asean Olympic gold medal winners.

Malaysian shuttler and silver medallist Lee Chong Wei may not be entitled to the AirAsia lifetime free flights, but he could yet receive a condominium unit.

Property developer Orando Holdings has said that they want to present the 32-year-old badminton player with the 1.5 million ringgit (S$503,000) unit in Cheras for his contribution to Malaysian sports.

The 1,100sq ft, three-bedroom unit at the planned Lavile exclusive condominium in Taman Maluri will face the Kuala Lumpur City Centre and come fully furnished.

"At the moment, we don't have a badminton court at the condominium. Maybe we can ask the architect to build at least one court, which we can name after Datuk Lee Chong Wei," said Orando managing director Eng Wei Chun.

Mr Eng said Lee had shown interest in buying the unit before flying to Brazil, adding that he had already made up his mind early on to give the unit to the shuttler.

"I volunteered to do this. I waited until after his game to tell him. I wanted to give him a surprise. He has done so much for the country," said Mr Eng, adding that he hoped this would encourage more young Malaysians to excel in sports.

"I see this as a corporate social responsibility. We want the country to have a bright future and be harmonious. Sports is doing that. This is my way of enhancing our sports for a brighter future for Malaysia," he added.

The Malaysian government will reward every athlete who won a medal at the recently concluded Rio Olympics an additional 200,000 ringgit.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Najib Razak at the Komplex Bunga Raya at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday.

Mr Najib said that both silver and bronze medallists would receive the money in addition to the prize money that the government had promised earlier.

"Today is a special day for Malaysia. Today officially the Malaysian people and the government receive our athletes home," he said.

Mr Najib said that although the athletes had not managed to get gold this time, they had delivered the best performance for the country at the Olympics so far, adding that he is confident that Malaysia would eventually get the gold at the next Olympics in Tokyo.

"Let's not stop here," he said, adding that he hopes Malaysia can use this as a basis for the next Olympics.