Ex-wheelchair tennis paralympian obtains degree after 7 years of sacrifices for country

JOHOR BARU: Not even time constraint nor having to represent the country could stop former wheelchair tennis paralympian Norisah Bahrom (pic) from excelling in her studies and obtaining a Bachelor’s degree (Computer Science) in Software Engineering.

The 46-year-old said it took her seven long years to finish her studies as she had to postpone her studies for a year to prepare and represent the country in the 2014 Incheon Asian Para Games in South Korea.

But, on Monday (Dec 13), she can rest happy and contented as she clutches her scroll.

“I should have completed my studies a while back. However, it took me this long as I had to divide my time between caring for my husband and children as well as always travelling overseas (for games).

“I have had to sacrifice a lot of time and, even when studying, there were times I had to ask my lecturer’s permission to take my children to college. My husband is also a Paralympian and often goes abroad and there were times when I had to ask for help from friends to take care of my children,” she told reporters after the 64th Convocation Ceremony at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), here, on Monday.

The Muar native, who has suffered from spina bifida and has been in a wheelchair since the age of 19, said her husband Abu Samah Borhan is also a wheelchair tennis Paralympian, having represented the country in the Tokyo Paralympics in August.

The mother of one said she was excited to share the joy of graduating with her husband, who always encouraged her, but a little sad that her late parents could not witness her achievement.

Norisah is a senior assistant information technology officer at the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry. She is also head of development at Wheelchair Tennis Malaysia.

The recipient of the Paralympic Sportswoman Award in 2009 also gave words of encouragement to persons with disabilities (PwD) to be daring to find success and not give up furthering their studies.

“I recommend that they (PwDs) go to welfare institutions such as the Bangi Industrial Training and Rehabilitation Centre, which is a place for the disabled where they can help restore their spirit and learn various things such as sewing, sports and so on,” she said.

Meanwhile, twins Muhd Zulfahmi Malek and Muhd Zulhamdi Malek, 24, did not expect to graduate together as one of them experienced some issues.

Muhd Zulhamdi, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Network Security, had a brain haemorrhage in 2019 after fainting on campus and was hospitalised for almost two months.

Muhd Zulfahmi, a Bachelor’s degree holder in Computer Software, said he is grateful that his sibling is well now despite the need for follow-up examinations and was excited to finally be able to celebrate the convocation together.

“We hope our parents are proud of our achievements and we hope to reciprocate their sacrifices and financial help to us,” said the farmer’s son from Kedah.- Bernama