Bonnie sees India, Nigeria as threats in Birmingham

Bonnie trains for the Commonwealth Games as Datuk Shahrul Zaman Yahya looks on. – Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR (June 29): National powerlifting champion Bonnie Bunyau Gustin expects to face a tough challenge from two athletes in his mission to snatch the para gold medal at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

The 23-year-old Paralympian, who won the men’s under-72 kg gold medal by lifting 213 kg at the 2022 Asian Oceania Open Powerlifting Championships in Pyeongtek, South Korea recently, named India’s Haryana Sudhir and Rolland Ezuruike from Nigeria as his main contenders at the event, which is scheduled to take place from July 28 to Aug 8.

Therefore, he hopes to improve his technique ahead of the games to realise Malaysia’s target of winning one gold through powerlifting.

“Many things need to be improved within a month before the Commonwealth Games … in terms of weight and technique if I am to renew my personal best,” he said when met after receiving a visit from the Malaysian contingent chef de mission (CDM) to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Datuk Shahrul Zaman Yahya, at the Kg Pandan Sports Centre here today.

Bonnie won the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games gold medal last year (with a record lift of 228 kg in the 72 kg class) and broke the world record with a lift of 230 kg at the Fazza World Cup in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June last year.

Besides gold prospect Bonnie, another powerlifting athlete Jong Yee Khie is also listed for the Commonwealth Games.

Shahrul is confident that Bonnie will be able to meet the target of bringing home a gold based on the thorough preparations made and his excellent record.

“With Bonnie’s ranking and achievements at the Paralympics, we expect the best, and he is also a world record holder. We also have high hopes for Yee Khie,” he said.

Unlike the Paralympics, para events are run concurrently with events for normal able-bodied athletes at the Commonwealth Games.

Meanwhile, Shahrul, who is also the president of the Malaysian Rugby Union (MRU), said no target had been set for the country’s men’s rugby team but hoped that the Bunga Raya squad led by Mohd Saizul Hafifi Md Noor could at least gain valuable experience in Birmingham.

“Their (medal) chances are quite slim because they are in a group with strong rugby nations like world champions South Africa, Scotland and Tonga.

“Although it is difficult to get a medal, they should take this opportunity to gain experience and knowledge for future tournaments,” he said.

This is the sixth participation of the national rugby squad in the Commonwealth Games since they made their debut as hosts in 1998. Malaysia failed to qualify for the 2006 edition in Melbourne, Australia. – Bernama

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