Thursday, 25 August 2016
SEPANG: They skipped class, took leave and “extended lunch breaks”, shared cabs with strangers and parked their cars on the KLIA highway.
Malaysians went to extreme lengths to get themselves to the Bunga Raya Complex just to welcome back our national athletes.
Crowds of people began to build at the complex at the KL International Airport arrival hall as early as 11am, with fans coming armed with flags, signages, badminton racquets and flowers.
The Star met with several fans at the airport arrival hall, who had thought that Team Malaysia would be exiting there.
The mood turned frantic when the crowds realised that the welcoming ceremony was going to take place at the Bunga Raya Complex, about a kilometre away.
Strangers began planning their exodus from the airport in order to make it to the complex on time, with some offering to share their cars or split the taxi costs with each other.
Among the group of people was filmmaker Luqman Sheikh Ghazali, 22, who led a viral online campaign called ProjectGoldForLCW, where he called on Malaysians to greet national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei and present him their gold medals from their secondary school days as a sign of appreciation.
“After his loss, he said sorry to the country and I kind of thought maybe he didn’t feel like he was Number 1 to us. But he is. So I was thinking’ what if Malaysians celebrated his arrival at KLIA later and we give him our own gold medals,” he said at the airport.
However, due to the swarming crowds and tight security, Luqman had to settle with presenting the campaign’s trophies to Chong Wei’s brother, Lee Chong Hoon.
Students Menagah Perumal, Alistair Sim, Jesselyn Tan, Emily Wong, Teoh Chai Yan and Winney Chia all skipped their accounting class in a private university in Nilai to be among those welcoming the national team home.
“It’s just class, and this is going to be Chong Wei’s last Olympics. Even though he didn’t win gold, he is still gold in our hearts,” said Menagah.
The Entreprenuers’ Development Association took a day off from work and arrived in droves to shower the athletes with flowers.
“They all played a fantastic game. All of Malaysia is proud, even if they didn’t get any gold medals. To us, they are the best players in the world,” said its president Datuk Dr Tony Looi.
Freelancer Joy Chee, 43, said she had taken leave from work.
“I know I can only see them for only a few minutes, but I really want to thank them so I prepared all these cardboard signs yesterday,” she said, holding up one sign which read: “I Love DLCW”.
At the Bunga Raya Complex, cars lined the side of the highway and people could be seen walking up the ramp to the building.
There, 21-year-old student Danial Azfar held up a sign professing his love for silver medallist Goh Liu Ying.
“If I met her, I would ask her to marry me. She is the most beautiful national athlete I have ever seen. Her partner is all right, too,” Danial said.
Chong Wei’s fellow Navy Volunteer Reserve Unit turned up in force and in full uniform to welcome their honorary lieutenant commander.
“We’d like to think the Navy’s toughness contributed to his performance in Rio. He has done well in representing us and the country in sports,” said Lieutenant (junior grade) Astutue Hartatie.
Junior athlete and Muhd Nabil Mohd Nizar was seen with a group of his Bukit Jalil Sports School mates, waving their mini Jalur Gemilang.
The 20-year-old middle distance runner said the Rio 2016 Olympic squad from Malaysia has inspired many juniors to push the distance.
“They have raised the standards and we are proud of them. We will work harder to be successful like them.
Muhd Nabil was part of the many junior athletes and Bukit Jalil Sports School students that turned up at the Bunga Raya Complex.
Also there were some 20 Daikin Malaysia staff cheering and waving a banner with the words: “Welcome back our heroes! Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying”.
“There will be an announcement tomorrow (today) of Daikin Malaysia’s reward for Chan and Goh,” he said. Chan and Goh are sponsored by Daikin Malaysia.
Source by: The Star Online