As published in Malay Mail today.
The roar of the crowd lifted her spirit as it was a bittersweet night for Fatehah Mustapha, Malaysia's flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The national cyclist told Malay Mail that it was an emotional march as the team paid tribute to the 298 lives lost in the Flight MH17 tragedy.
Fatehah walked with the Jalur Gemilang flying at half-mast while six other national athletes and two officials donned Malaysia Airlines (MAS) cabin crew uniform — a plan engineered by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to honour the victims of the airlines' second aviation disaster after the disappearance of Flight MH370 on March 8.
“It was sad as I was thinking of MH17 (while marching),” said 25-year-old Fatehah.
“At the same time, I am honoured to have led the national contingent. Walking in front of the contingent has motivated me to do well in my event.”
Fatehah was chosen as the flag bearer to replace national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei who pulled out from the Games following a thigh injury.
She paid credit to her fellow athletes who had no hesitation in wearing the MAS uniforms.
Khairy had told Malay Mail on Thursday that he wanted a fitting tribute to the victims of the MH17 crash by getting several of the athletes and officials to wear the MAS uniforms over and above the black armband.
He also revealed the team lowered the flag by using scissors and tape when they were handed the flag outside the stadium just before the march-in.
“I am really proud to be Malaysian and I am proud to have been part of the team last night (opening ceremony),” Fatehah said.
She said beyond the well-executed tribute that won the hearts of many, the lives lost in the aviation tragedy was saddening.
“Everyone feels the pain."
HD says: All the best Fatehah!