On the way to Santubong beach one day and about 4 km before my destination, I saw a man in a 3-wheeler, wheel-chair (it is the type that is used in race/paralympics). He was climbing uphill when I spotted him, struggling but definitely moving. Clothed in a bright, yellow and red-striped cycling jersy, I passed him and immediately thought that there was some sort of an event going on. Strangely I didn’t see any motorcycle escort or cameraman, nor spectators or any safety marshals by the road side. He was just there by himself.
So I overtook him cautiously, and arrived at the beach, after dropping off my friend, I decided to take a stroll by the beach and see the developments that had been going on since my last visit. Took some pictures, walked the sands and saw visitors doing about their activities under the hot sun. About 20 minutes later,
I saw the man in the yellow jersey again, at the beach side. “He must have just arrived” I thought and was enjoying the sea view from the walkway. I just had to say hello and ask him about his recent feat. I approached him, gave him my hand, and asked what was he doing back then, was he training or preparing for a coming event or sport?. He said “No.. he was just doing it for fun and he often go outdoor”. It surprised and amazed me, and later in a conversation with him, I found out that he frequently do this for exercise, I was wowed by the distance that he traveled in his wheel chair and said my compliments, but he shrugged it with a smile and said that it is not all that far to him. He said it with a calm voice which sounded humble and honest.
After a few minutes of conversation.. I said goodbye, we exchanged numbers, e-mail, we shook hands and I went my way. I went home “googled” his name and was amazed at his achievements.. Junaidi Pauzan, the man;
- In 2006, Malaysian paralympics, won a gold medal in the 800m freestyle swimming event and two silvers, in the 1,500m and 400m freestyle events.
- 2007, He swam from Pulau Satang Besar to Damai Beach, some 15 nautical miles, and
- 2008, from Pulau Satang Besar to Kampung Santubong, some 19 nautical miles. 8 hours 30 minutes.
- 2009, he travelled all the way from Miri to Kuching (900KM) in his wheelchair, a feat that he hoped would be entered into the Sarawak Book of Records.
He told me that he plans and wishes to do his wheel chair expedition at the peninsular and still waiting for funds and approval to climb mount Kinabalu.
Junaidi, a retired Sarawak Forestry Department staff, lost his left leg in a road accident in 2001, showed great determination and self-belief despite his disability. He showed will power can overcome limitations and obstacles, and that every one should be able to achieve and be an achiever.
That short meeting that afternoon was really enlightening for me. It is very seldom that we meet people like him and honestly, I am proud, grateful and honored to have the opportunity to be able to talk to him and shook his hands. I wish that my will power and determination are as tough and strong as his. That’s probably the most valuable experience that anyone can learn from Junaidi Pauzan and the greatest contribution that he’s made to everyone that knows him.