Sunday, February 4, 2007

Strongmen ready for Games glory


THE silver medal that Matin Guntali lifted at the Royal Theatre in
Victoria in 1994 was the start of good things for the sport in Malaysia.
It was worth RM40,000 to Matin but for the next generation of
weightlifters, it was priceless.
The medal, the nation's first in the Games in 32 years, gave the sport a
much-needed lift which was then, striving for credibility in Malaysia.
Since then, the Malaysian Weightlifting Federation had produced eight
lifters capable of winning at least three gold medals for Malaysia in
Kuala Lumpur next month.
Besides Matin, the others are Rahman Ahmad (56kg), Kamaruzaman Jusan
(62kg), Mohamed Hidayat, Rosdi Ngah (69kg), Rozlimand Haron (77kg), Edmond
Yeo (85kg), and Che Azrol (105kg).
"We have had a very good training programme with the help of the
National Sports Council since the Games training started in mid-1995,"
said NSC weightlifting team manager Abu Hanapah.
"In fact, weightlifting has never had it so good. We have travelled to
numerous places like Nauru, Russa, Taiwan and Australia for tournaments
and training stints."
That was not the case when Matin trained for his silver.
"Money was always a problem, especially when preparing for major
assignments back then," said the bodybuilder-turned-weightlifter.
Matin, 32, lifted 130kg at the Victoria Games to win the silver in the
54kg clean and jerk. In the process, he smashed the national record of
112.5kg set by fellow Sabahan Rajunit Pangkat in April 1994. (The 54kg
category has been replaced by 56kg now).
These days, Matin has not been up to form and the "new" force in the
56kg is Rahman Ahmad.
"It is true that he (Matin) has not been up to the mark, but the coaches
have said that he is capable of a medal in the category," said Hanapah.
In Victoria, Rahman finished fifth with a 97.5kg lift in the snatch. In
the clean and jerk, he started at 120kg but strained his back while
attempting 127kg.
But Rahman has steadily progressed since.
At the Malaysian Open at the Mines Exhibition Hall in June, Rahman
rewrote two national records and equalled the Commonwealth record in the
56kg category.
Rahman made a clean sweep of golds in the snatch, clean and jerk and the
combined total.
In the snatch, Rahman lifted 107.5kg to smash the old record of 102.5
set by Roswadi Rashid. It also equalled the Commonwealth championship
record achieved by India's Thandava Muthu in Nauru.
In the combined total, he lifted 237.5kg to shatter Roswadi's national
record of 227.5. His winning lift of 130kg in the snatch and jerk equalled
Guntali's national record.
In the 69kg category, Hidayat will have his hands full competing against
Nauru's Marcus Stephen who broke three Oceania and Commonwealth
championship records at the Micronesian Games on Aug 5.
Stephen is ranked number five in the world.
In the clean and jerk he started with a 155kg lift which gave him a gold
over Kiribati's Kamaraia Eken whose best was 127.5kg.
Then he went to a record 165.5kg, breaking the Micro Games, Oceania and
Commonwealth championship records. The previous record stood at 165kg.
He also snatched 125kg to win gold and a new Micro and Oceania record by