Bonnie Bunyau Gustin once promised his father that he would become Paralympic and world champion in powerlifting.
On Saturday (August 28) the 22-year-old delivered the second part of that pledge, having already conquered the world in 2019 when he won both junior and senior world titles in the men’s -65kg.
Gustin took Malaysia’s first medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, breaking the Games record with a lift of 228kg in the men’s -72gk category. It was also his country’s first Paralympic gold medal in the sport.
It would be fair to say that powerlifting is in the blood of the Gustin family. Older brother Bryan Junancey Gustin competed at international level while father Jenang took part in the 2010 world championships in Kuala Lumpur.
“It was his dream that I would become a Paralympic and world champion. I made a promise to make his dream come true,” Gustin said. “I’m very happy that I am able to live his [father] dream.”
Gustin left school to focus on powerlifting at the age of 15 and his rise has been impressive. Coach Jamil Adam is not surprised, however.
“He (Bonnie) is always motivated to win the gold medal. And he goes for it with no fear; he is very strong-headed and resilient, which makes him unique,” Adam said.
Gustin’s ‘fearless attitude’ was needed as he watched rivals Innocent Nnamdi of Nigeria, Iraq's Mohsin Rasool and China’s Hu Peng falter. He admitted that watching them fail made him nervous.
“But once I had success with my first lift, I became aggressive and strong on my next lifts,” said Gustin, who finished ahead of Egypt’s Attia Mahmoud (191 kg) and Great Britain’s Micky Yule (182kg).