Subject: AFP: Disabled athlete wins first medal for E Timor

Disabled athlete wins first medal for E Timor

December 26 2003 at 08:45AM

Hanoi - Handicapped East Timorese weightlifter Mateus Lukas was celebrating on Christmas Day after unexpectedly winning his country's first medal during the second ASEAN Para Games in Hanoi.

Lukas grabbed the bronze medal in the men's 48kg weightlifting division on Tuesday after lifting 110 kilos at Hanoi's Trinh Hoai Duc Competition House, officials said.

"It was a big surprise as the country is a newcomer to the regional sport arena. It is their first medal at Sea Games and Para Games," an official from the organizing committee told AFP.

According to the government Vietnam News Agency (VNA), Lukas, 25, was born with congenital polio. He became a student in economics and also works at a centre supporting people with disabilities.

"I've achieved the most wonderful thing," the athlete was quoted as saying by VNA.

"We have only six athletes and five officials participating in the second ASEAN Para Games. I did not think that I could earn any medal, but in fact the medal went to me after a long wait."

More than 700 handicapped athletes from the 10 ASEAN countries and East Timor contest 312 gold medals in five sports, including track-and-field, swimming, weightlifting, badminton and table-tennis.

Participants are divided into five degrees of disability, including those who are paralysed, wheelchair-bound, visually impaired, suffering cerebral palsy or are mentally-retarded.

The competition is due to end on Saturday.

Earlier this month, Vietnam had organized the 22nd Southeast Asian Games with more than 5,000 athletes and coaches from the same 11 countries.

East Timor did not win any medal at the SEA Games. - Sapa-AFP

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