The makings of a champion

Sarawak para powerlifter Bonnie Bunyau.

Sarawak para powerlifter Bonnie Bunyau recently made the country proud when he took home a gold medal in the World Para Powerlifting World Cup held in Bangkok, Thailand. Bonnie lifted 226kg, a significant improvement from his previous best of 207kg he recorded in Kazakhstan two years ago.  

Nothing is impossible

Bonnie with his Gold medal after managing his personal best of 226kg in the recent World Para Powerlifting World Cup.

Powerlifting and strength competitions are believed to have originated from ancient Greek and ancient Persian times. The idea is to prove men’s strength and manhood by lifting heavy objects.

In 1896, it was made an official sport in the Olympic Games. However, it was only in the 18th to 19th century when modern weightlifting involved equipment. During the ancient days, weightlifting competition involved men lifting heavy stones, rocks, rudimentary dumbbells, heavy clubs, and their body weight.

Weightlifting soon evolved as it became an official category in the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 1964. From 2000 onwards, powerlifting became a sport for both men and women as the latter were allowed to compete.

Overall, weightlifting has greatly evolved into the sport we know today. As many lifted their best, 2021 sees national powerlifter, Bonnie Bunyau Gustin emerged victorious in the recent World Para Powerlifting World Cup in Bangkok, Thailand.

At Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) before flying off to Bangkok, Thailand.

His win qualifies him for the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics. Kuching born and bred, Bonnie managed to lift 226kg in the men’s 72kg category, beating his previous best of 207kg he recorded in the World Para Powerlifting Championship, Kazakhstan two years ago. He also won two gold medals in the 2019 championship.

Bonnie Bunyau was inspired by his father, Gustin Jenang to learn and pursue the art of powerlifting.

In 2019, he said that he was happy to be able to realise his father’s dream. “He dreamed that I would become a world and Paralympic champion. I made a promise to myself to achieve that,” he said.

The 20-year-old revealed that he went through strenuous training this time and remembered the times when he saw his father, national Paralympic powerlifter Gustin Jenang going through the same process.

Bonnie was inspired to follow in his father’s footsteps when he was 12. “My father brought me and my brother to one of his training sessions. There, I was amazed watching his strength,” he also added that it was there he met his current coach Jamil Adam.

Out of curiosity, Bonnie decided to try lifting an empty bar. “The first time I tried lifting, my father was there to help me. He also taught me the correct techniques of lifting,” he recalled.

Fast forward a few years later, a determined Bonnie left his studies to pursue powerlifting. He knew what his future would be and worked hard for it. 

Over the years, Bonnie went through countless challenges and obstacles. “There were times I feel stressed out, demotivated, and worry before entering tournaments.” Despite so, his continuous perseverance and efforts proved to be fruitful as he became who he is today.
Asked about his daily routine as an athlete, Bonnie explained that it includes him taking vitamin C and calcium supplements. “I need them before I start my daily training so I would feel much more energetic and in a good shape.”

Further aiming to be one of the best in the world in the powerlifting arena, Bonnie said that he is thankful for everyone’s support throughout his journey. “There are just too many people I need to thank for their constant support in my journey. It wouldn’t do justice to name them one by one. I am forever grateful for my parents, family members, as well as friends, who were always there for me when I needed motivation.”

He would also like to give a special thanks to his coach Jamil Adam for training him. “I would also like to extend my gratitude to Majlis Sukan Negara (MSN), Institut Sukan Negara (ISN), and Malaysian Para Powerlifting Association for the opportunity to represent the country and also continue my journey in Para Powerlifting.” 

Bonnie Bunyau (second from left) with his teammates before their flight to Bangkok, Thailand for the World Para Powerlifting World Cup.