Not even fever can stop Fatah from bagging judo gold

05 Jun 2023 07:05pm
National judo exponent Muhammad Fatah Abu Bakar - Facebook
National judo exponent Muhammad Fatah Abu Bakar - Facebook

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - National judo exponent Muhammad Fatah Abu Bakar had to overcome a lack of training time due to his work as a masseur, fever and his opponent to strike gold at the 2023 Asean Para Games, here, today.

Muhammad Fatah competed as an unseeded exponent but exploded with confidence to defeat defending champion Sahrul Sulaiman in the final for the gold medal in the men’s below 73-kilogramme (kg) J2 (vision impairment) category at the Federation of Youth Hall in Cambodia.

What’s interesting is that he managed to strike gold in only his second appearance in the biennial Games after having to be contented with bronze in the 66kg event in the 2007 edition in Thailand.

"I was sick today but I am glad I managed to contribute a gold medal for Malaysia. I have made a lot of sacrifices to reach this level.

"It hasn’t been easy as I also work as a masseur in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur and I had to find free time to train by myself. But it has all been worthwhile as I managed to bring glory for my country and my family,” said a visibly moved Muhammad Fatah.

The 37-year-old exponent, who is better known as Fatah, said he nearly gave up on life when he lost his vision at 21.

Fatah also had to drop out from pursuing his studies in mechanical engineering at Universiti Kuala Lumpur and be placed at the Gurney Training Centre that was run by the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in Kuala Lumpur.

Undaunted, he refused to look back and continued to move forward in balancing his work and judo.

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"At 21, I slowly began to lose my vision and it was hard for me to accept that because I was still young then. I was floored by the test from the Almighty but I also knew there must be a reason.

"I got back up with the blessings and support of family and people around me and, in 2007, discovered judo and went on to represent the country at the Thailand APG," he recalled.

Fatah will try to get his second gold medal in judo when he competes in the team event with Chee Hock Lee and Mohd Khairul Azmi Abd Rahaman tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Hock Lee bagged silver in the below 90kg event of the J1 category. - BERNAMA