(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

As the city where I competed in my first Asean Para Games (APG), Kuala Lumpur will always hold a special place in my heart. I know it will be similar for Aini, who will make her debut today in the powerlifting competition.

Aini was born bow-legged and while she is small in stature – she stands at 1.37m and weighs 45kg – she has big ambitions.

One of my first encounters with her was earlier this year, when she approached me for advice and information about pursuing disability sports at a higher level.

I told her to just take things one step at a time, to enjoy what she is doing, but to be prepared for sacrifice and pain if she wants to get to the highest level of sport.

What struck me about her was that apart from her clear interest in wanting to go far in sport, she sounded like she knew what she wanted to do.

That’s hard to come by to begin with, but it was also obvious to me that Aini is someone who is willing to put in the hard work required to get where she wants to go.

Para-swimmer Theresa Goh, a Paralympic bronze medallist, with Nur Aini Mohamad Yasli, a powerlifter making her Asean Para Games debut.

Para-swimmer Theresa Goh, a Paralympic bronze medallist, with Nur Aini Mohamad Yasli, a powerlifter making her Asean Para Games debut. PHOTO COURTESY OF THERESA GOH

Powerlifting is a sport few women are willing to try, perhaps because it is viewed by many as a “masculine” sport. Aini is keen to change that and help inspire more women, in particular, to take up powerlifting.

Even though I haven’t known her for very long, I can see that she’s a very genuine and humble person.

What’s also special about her is that as Singapore’s first female powerlifter to compete at the APG, she is also blazing a trail for others.

Powerlifting is a sport few women are willing to try, perhaps because it is viewed by many as a “masculine” sport.

Aini is keen to change that and help inspire more women, in particular, to take up powerlifting, and see for themselves that the conventional perception of something doesn’t really matter that much.

It’s really admirable that a debutante has such aspirations and I want to help support that message any way I can.

For someone competing at a first major Games, Aini has looked pretty chill so far. I hope for her it will be the start of a lifelong love affair with sports, and that through her, more people will discover powerlifting and the power of sport.

More Info: www.straitstimes.com

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