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ARKIB : 23/10/2001

424 handicapped athletes for ASEAN Paralympics

KUALA LUMPUR Oct 22 - A total of 424 handicapped athletes from all the 10 ASEAN countries will take part in the inaugural ASEAN Paralympic Games to be held here from Friday.

Organising chairman Zainal Abu Zarin said 530 gold medals in swimming and athletics would be up for grabs in the three-day meet.

The games, to be held at the National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil, would be opened by Acting Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, he told a news conference here today.

The contests will be divided into three categories - for the vision impaired, wheel-chair bound and spastics.

Zainal said Malaysia would have the biggest contingent of 340 athletes and officials, followed by Thailand with 101, Indonesia (60) and Singapore (58). Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines, Cambodia and Laos will also be represented.

Zainal, the chief executive of the Malaysian Paralympic Council, said the Malaysian athletes were in high spirits and would be aiming for gold in their events.

At the function, the Vista Laser Treatment Centre handed over a cheque for RM70,000 to finance the treatment of 10 athletes suffering from vision impairment.

Furniture company FRC handed over a cheque for RM10,000 while Adabi Consumer Industries Sdn Bhd gave RM4,000 for the organisation of the games.

Zainal urged more companies and corporate figures to donate to the council to help it organise activities for the handicapped.

He also said tickets for the opening ceremony would be given away free at temporary ticket counters in the Klang Valley.

The counters will be set up at Sungei Wang Plaza, Megamall Mid Valley, Summit Subang Jaya, Klang Parade, LRT stations at Pasar Seni, Masjid Jamek and KLCC and selected Telekom outlets.

"We expect at least 60,000 people including school students in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor to watch the opening on Friday," he said.

Popular local singer Siti Nurhaliza, who has been appointed ambassadress of the games, will give a 30-minute presentation at the opening.

A concert by local artistes from 6 pm will precede the opening which will include a march-past by contingents, parachuting demonstration and fireworks display.

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