The people who shape Suhairi
06 September 2017
Nur Ilham Ismail
“If we think positive, our life will be easier. When we think negative, our life will be difficult. So, why not just think positive all the way?”
– Suhairi bin Suhani
Suhairi during the Rio2016 Paralympic Games
Suhairi’s positive outlook on life is shaped by the people that guided and supported him throughout his life till today. When he was a young boy, he had trouble coping with his emotions and would often erupt into angry fits. As such, he had to attend anger management classes where he learnt how to relax, keep calm and adopt a positive attitude. He still remembers fondly how his teachers and psychologists worked closely with him, to help him with learning during his formative years.
“I couldn’t read properly in the past. Now, I can spell, read and understand questions. Last time, I couldn’t understand questions, I took much longer (to answer). It’s about having time to learn.”
Although he struggled with his studies in primary school, Suhairi admits that he was a very active student with a competitive streak in him. “I was running up and down in primary school as I could not keep still. During recess time, I would challenge my friends to compete with me to run, touch the wall and run back. So, my school chose to send me for competitions and that’s how I started running.”
#ICYMI: An accident during his childhood brought a drastic change to his life
From competing with friends in the school yard, Suhairi made the giant leap to become an athlete competing internationally in Track and Field events, namely the long jump and 400-metre sprint. His sporting potential and contribution have not gone unnoticed by the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) High Performance Sports Department (HPS). Earlier this year, he was awarded the Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship), a prestigious scholarship offering enhanced backing to athletes who have demonstrated potential to medal at Asian, Olympic and world level events. The scholarship is a boost to Suhairi’s dreams of becoming a full-time athlete and his hopes of supporting his family.
“It (the spexScholarship) gives us a lot of support to be better athletes. There are psychologists that talk to us, and good gyms and facilities to train in.”
When it comes to training, Suhairi always gives his all and puts his utmost trust in his two coaches: Singapore’s former sprint king Muhamad Hosni, and technical coach Vera. He does not believe in training blindly, preferring his coaches to be around to provide feedback on his performance.
#ICYMI: Check out Suhairi's canvas on Facebook (only on mobile)
“Sometimes, I train on my own but I am happiest when I am training with my coaches. Without my coaches to assess me, I wouldn’t know if I did something correctly or wrongly,” says Suhairi.
For all his sporting feats and accolades, Suhairi often puts his family first and cites his mother as the rock behind his success. When he is not busy with training, Suhairi can be found at home resting and spending quality time with his family of eight.
“My mum took care of me when I had high fever and fits. That’s why I’m close to my mum. She always tells me to inform my coach if I’m tired. She always reminds me to stay healthy and not to mix with bad company.”
Optimism as the key to triumph
“When I start running, that’s when I become a confident guy and athlete; because when the competition starts, I am sure of everything that I need to do.”
– Suhairi bin Suhani
Two years after getting his first medal in the 2015 ASEAN Para Games, Suhairi is determined to continue jumping his way to a podium finish this year. Despite being up against full-time para-athletes from around the region and the competition venue being the home ground of 2015’s gold medallist and current world record holder, Suhairi still cuts a figure of optimism.
“As other athletes keep improving, every competition will be tough. So, I must be consistent in my performance. I was on the podium in the last ASEAN Para Games so I told my coach that I want to be on the podium again this year.”
“Every athlete trains hard and the athletes in Malaysia are also improving. As the competition is held on their home ground, they will want to win medals. It’s alright because it is every athlete’s dream to win a medal. I just have to try and jump further than them.”
Suhairi has truly come a long way from the little boy who struggled to keep up with his peers in school. These days, it is his opponents that will find themselves struggling to keep up with him on the track
Elevate The Leap
Get ready to jump off your seats as Suhairi makes another leap to glory in the ASEAN Para Games. Seize the chance to add a spring to his step by cheering him on in KL!
Stay tuned to TeamSingapore.sg and TeamSG Facebook for updates on our athletes at the ASEAN Para Games!