Bonnie Bunyau Gustin is living a dream. The dream, his father Jenang Gustin dreamt of for his son several years ago – becoming a World and Paralympic champion.
And the junior Gustin had his moment of glory at the Nur-Sultan 2019 World Para Powerlifting when he surprised everyone with double World titles, something that will push him closer towards his Paralympic goals. After clinching his men’s -65kg junior title on the opening day, Gustin went on to shock Paralympic champions Paul Kehinde and Liu Lei on his way to his first senior major title. He lifted a massive 207kg for the title.
“I am very happy that I am able to living his (my father) dream. It was his dream that I become a World and Paralympic champion. I made a promise to myself to make his dream come true. The journey has just begun,” said the excited 20-year-old, who was eager to see his father back home in Sarawak, Malaysia.
“Now I want to win a Paralympic gold for him. I will have to train harder,” he added.
Gustin’s journey with powerlifting began at a very young age, when he followed his father to the training centre in Kuching Sarawat. And he picked up the nuances of the sport in very little time. His father, Jenang was an international para powerlifter then who had participated in 2010 Kuala Lumpur Worlds, while his elder brother Bryan Junancey Gustin was a national athlete.
Once he had fallen for the sport, Gustin left studies to focus only on powerlifting. And results slowly followed him. Starting with the national junior championship title, Gustin went on to win the gold in his international debut at 2017 Dubai Fazza World Cup.
“He is always motivated to win the gold. And he goes for it with no fear; he is very strong headed and resilient, which makes him unique. This was also the reason he could beat Paralympic champions in Nur-Sultan,” praised coach Jamil Adam, who has been training Gustin for the last six years.
Adam revealed that improvement started showing for Gustin in 2018, when he started the year lifting 157kg at the 2018 World Cup in Dubai to ending the year with an impressive 204kg at the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games.
“His trajectory of progress in 2018 has been very impressive – from 157kg, 166kg, 180kg to 204 kg. He is a one in a million athlete who rises so fast. He is special; genetically talented, determined and very focused. He knows in which direction he has to go and how to reach there,” the coach added.
“I strongly believe he has a very bright future. We are now making him ready for the Paralympics.”
PUBG & Valentino Rossi
Meanwhile Gustin finds his other passion to improve his concentration on online battle royale game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).
“After Powerlifting, this is one thing I love to do. It also helps me improve my focus. I have friends in Kuala Lumpur (at training centre) who joins me. It’s one of the best things to unwind myself,” said the youngster who also admitted, “I am an avid foodie.”
Gustin also likes the adrenaline rush of racing and thus, he is fond of MotoGP and follows Italian racer Valentino Rossi in that case. “He (Rossi) inspires me with his speed. He motivates me to do better in my game.”
“But in Powerlifting, I look up to champion Siamand Rahman. I admire the way he breaks world records.
“My target now is to lift 212 kg at Dubai 2020 Fazza competition before taking a shot at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.”
How far he can go in Japan is a question he does not want to answer yet.
“Well, that’s a secret about the weight in Tokyo. You have to watch me for that.”