In recent years, athletes in Malaysia have been put on a high pedestal (and rightly so), what with all their incredible achievements and feats.
However, Mariappan Perumal, a former Paralympian who successfully snagged the country’s first Paralympic medal, has revealed that he feels “used like a piece of rag cloth” after dedicating his all to the country.
The 58-year-old has participated in 7 editions of the Paralympic Games (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012) and won 2 bronze medals. Although he has greatly contributed to the country’s sports scene, he is still struggling to make ends meet, and currently lives in a “tiny room with nothing offer but (his) story”.
The former powerlifter explained that he tries his best to not complain, but things get tough as he has 4 other mouths to feed other than himself. His son has also expressed his wish to be a powerlifter like his father, but Mariappan laments, “How will I show him this is a sustainable future when I live in dump like this?”
Relating that he started powerlifting in 1980, Mariappan expressed that he has never seen himself getting rich from it. Why? Well, he admits that powerlifting is a niche sport, not a well-known one, and the fact that he’s a disabled athlete means that less people pay attention to him.
But Mariappan certainly doesn’t regret his decision in entering the sports industry, and he is glad that current Olympic and Paralympic medalists are heavily rewarded under the new scheme. “I’ve accomplished a lot for Malaysia. An athlete’s time is limited. As soon as you retire, you are forgotten. I hope that won’t be the case for me and our 3 new heroes,” continued Mariappan.
Mariappan, who has been in the powerlifting scene for more than 30 years, did not have a coach when he was training for the past Olympics. His financial plight has also been highlighted in local media for years, but nothing has materialised for the athlete so far.
If you would like to extend financial aid to Mariappan, feel free to support him directly through his Maybank account at 112558-108671 (Mariappan A/L M Perumal).