KUCHING: Sarawak will host the 31st Malaysian International Open Masters Athletics Championship at the Sarawak Stadium in Petra Jaya from July 22 to 23.
More than 700 veteran athletes including Sarawak’s ‘Flying Dayak’ Watson Nyambek, who once held the national 100m record of 10.30s, will be competing in the event held for the first time in the state.
“Currently, we have received the confirmation from 520 athletes outside Sarawak and they are from eight countries including host Malaysia (Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia), Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Brunei.
“The closing date was on June 16 but due to the good response, it has been extended to June 30. I am expecting more former national athletes to join this event,” Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah told reporters at a press conference at Stadium Negeri yesterday.
He was accompanied by the Malaysian Masters Athletic Association secretary S Sivapragasam, Assistant Youth and Sports Minister Snowdan Lawan and Sarawak Sports Corporation chief executive officer cum Sarawak State Sports Council director Dr Ong Kong Swee.
Karim confirmed that Watson and Tupong assemblyman Fazzrudin Abdul Rahman will be taking part in the meet.
According to Karim, the championship will be an exciting and interesting sports event which is expected to attract over 1,000 people including athletes and their family members as well as coaches and officials.
“This is another international sports event that we are organising in our efforts to promote sports tourism in Sarawak.
“We are hoping to organise at least one international championship in the state and we will also be hosting the national taekwondo championship and an international tenpin bowling championship in July,” he said.
Karim added that the event would be a prelude to the Asian Open Masters Athletics Championship in 2019 which Sarawak is bidding for the host job.
Meanwhile, Sivapragasam said that the response to the championship was very encouraging when compared to the 30th edition in Kuala Lumpur last year which attracted only 500 athletes.
– The Borneo Post