Monday, January 29, 2007

Sara aims to do better


COMMONWEALTH Games gold medallist G. Saravanan has set a realistic target
of bettering his national record at the Asian Games in Bangkok.
His mark of 14:10.05 was good enough for a Commonwealth Games medal but
he will have to dig deeper into his reserves if he wants to return with a
50km walks medal from Bangkok.
"I know it would be tough competing against the best in Asia because my
time is not good compared to the rest of Asia, that is why I have set a
target of lowering my national record," said Saravanan after receiving an
incentive from the National Association of Malaysian Athletes (NAMA).
NAMA president S. Muthiah said the association are proud of Saravanan's
achievement at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games and hope the incentive
will spur him to do better at the Asian Games.
Saravanan is confident the Malaysian AAU and the Olympic Council
Malaysia will work out an amicable solution to the controversy surrounding
a Proton Perdana.

Allen targets four gold medals at Asiad


FOR eight years, chief coach Sid Allen has always played down the national
keglers' chances in international tournaments. Yesterday, he caused a stir
when he announced his four-gold target at the Asian Games in Bangkok next
After a meeting with Asian Games chef-de-mission Dr Zakaria Ahmad, Allen
said the women are good for three gold medals while the men will return
with one.
"I have been with the national team for eight years now and the present
batch of keglers are the best ever. They have the ability to win four
golds at the Asiad," said Allen.
Zakaria had predicted a modest two-gold haul from the entire Malaysian
contingent, so if Allen is to be believed, Malaysia are in for a good
harvest in Bangkok.
"I have seen the Taiwan and South Korean keglers train and although they
are good, I still feel the Malaysians have a slight advantage," said
The Korean keglers have been training fulltime for two years now and
have almost perfected their game.
"I have been told the Koreans were barricaded in a hostel for two years
without even telephones to communicate with the outside world. They are
dead serious about winning medals at the Asiad and will be the toughest
Allen said the men's team of Kenny Ang, Ben Heng, Alex Liew, Daniel Lim,
Lai Chuen Lian and Vincent Low will find the going tougher than the women.
"Lai Kin Ngoh, Shalin Zulkifli, Sharon Low, Sarah Yap, Low Poh Lian and
Karen Lian are at their peak and if the lane conditions in Bangkok suit
them, they will be unbeatable," he said.
Although the bowlers have had a hectic competition year with the
Commonwealth Games taking the biggest toll on their energy, Allen said
instead of a burnout, the team have become stronger with each tournament.
"I dare say that at next year's Brunei Sea Games, we will return with
all the eight golds at stake," said a confident Allen.
Other than Ang and Shalin, who will be competing in the AMF World Cup in
Japan next week, the rest will compete in the Genting World Kuala Lumpur
International Open championships at Genting Bowl in Subang Jaya on Nov 20-
The annual RM42,000 singles tournament is part of the bowlers'
preparation for the Asiad.

Rampangajouw steers Cobra to victory


COBRA Black lived up to their top billing when they defeated Blackhawk 14-
10 for the Cobra 10s rugger title at Utara ground in Petaling Jaya
However, Cobra could do nothing right until Eeniasi Laqure, a Fijian,
landed a try in the dying minutes of the first half. Nabil Marzuki
converted for a crucial seven-point lead.
Blackhawk kept Cobra at bay in the second half and there was a fierce
exchange of tackles right up till the final whistle when Rosli Omar,
capitalising on a Laqure mistake, perfected a try. But Nazri Mohamed Nor
failed to convert.
Nazri earned a penalty in the dying minutes but the post denied the
Hawks. Just when the crowd thought that all was lost, Cobra's Jude
Rampangoue charged over for a try which Nabil converted to give them
Blackhawk coach Capt Zaini Kabul attributed their defeat to the missed
"We almost had Cobra cornered but when Nazri failed to convert the
penalty I knew time was against us."
Cobra, who won the Jonah Jones Sevens earlier, will be gunning for a
hat-trick of titles when they take part in the Penang 10s on Dec 5-6.
"Our goal is to win the Penang 10s too," said Cobra coach Boon Hoon Che.
Results - Cup championship q-finals: Cobra Black bt RAAF Tigers 54-0;
BBMB Knights bt SMS Old Boys 5-0; Blackhawk bt RSC 29-5; JLJ DiRaja bt
Bandaraya Dragons 26-5.
Semifinals: Cobra bt BBMB Knights 33-0; Blackhawk bt JLJ DiRaja 3-0;
Final: Cobra Black bt Blackhawk 14-10.

Element of surprise from Hidayat?


HIDAYAT Hamidon was expected to win the snatch gold at the Kuala Lumpur
Commonwealth Games but instead surprised all with a gold in the clean and
jerk, and a silver in the combined total.
At the Asian Games in Bangkok, Hidayat will again be banking on the
element of surprise when he lifts in the 69kg category.
But Hidayat, with his hallmark confident smile, will have to dig deep
into his reserves to even win a bronze.
"It would be great to win a medal in Bangkok because since Malaysia made
a debut at the 1954 Games until the 1994 Hiroshima Games, weightlifting
has only won one bronze medal," said Hidayat.
"And that was 40 years ago in Tokyo. It would be a feather in my cap to
lift a medal.
"For this I have put some extra hours in training."
The 22-year-old Hidayat is working harder than usual under Russian coach
Slava Lelikov. For a start, he has been put back on a strict diet
programme by Lelikov to shed the extra pounds gained during the break
after the KL Games.
"I visited visit my family in Indonesia during the break and ate a
little more than usual. But under the diet programme, it won't be long
before I'm back to my ideal weight."
Hidayat and Matin Guntali, who won three bronze medals at September's
Commonwealth Games, are the two weightlifters picked by the Olympic
Council of Malaysia (OCM) for Bangkok.
Hidayat will lift in the 69kg category and Matin in the 56kg.
At the recent World Championships at Lahti, Finland, China's Wan Jianhui
broke the International Weightlifting Federation's (IWF) standard by 0.5kg
with a snatch of 158kg in the 69kg.
Plamen Jeliazkov of Bulgaria went up to lift a world record of 160kg.
At the Asian Games, Hidayat will battle against lifters from China,
Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
"I will not put myself under any undue pressure and will lift for the
pure joy of lifting.
"Matin and I are in the right frame of mind and will treat the Asiad
with the same determination and spirit as the Commonwealth Games.
"Medals or not, we will surely try to crack national records."

`Flying Dayak' Watson loses in trials


OMAN long jumper Ahmad Hudewib Al-Moamari beat Watson Nyambek to the 100m
tape at the National Sports Council track in Bukit Jalil yestarday but
Malaysia AAU president Datuk Khalid Yunus saw a silver lining in the race.
"It is good that he lost to the Oman runner because it would only spur
him on to do better," said Khalid after the track and field trials which
involved Oman, Kuwait and Malaysia.
"If he runs with the local boys, it is a known fact that he will win and
there is no challenge for him to clock better."
Ahmad clocked a hand-timed 10.3 while Watson and the rest of the field
did 10.4.
Women sprinter G. Shanti did not have any decent opposition so S. Vasu
was roped in as a pacer in the 100m run.
Shanti clocked 11.4 and looked capable of dipping lower if she did not
slow down in the final 10 metres.
Also at the trials were high jumper Loo Kum Zee and walker Yuan Yufang.
Loo did 2.15m while Yufang clocked 13.05 in the 3km warmup.
The Oman and Kuwait runners have been in Malaysia for close to two
months now as they are preparing for the Asian Games challenge in Bangkok.
* ATHLETES bound for the Asian Games will undergo drug tests before
leaving for Bangkok.
Deputy Sports Minister Datuk Loke Yuen Yow, who visited the sepak takraw
players and the gynnasts at the training camp in Bukit Jalil, said:
"Drug testing is actually carried out from time to time, especially
before a championship begins."
Meanwhile, Bangkok-bound Malaysian athletes for next month's Asian Games
were told to give priority to national interests and leave the question of
monetary rewards to the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and National
Sports Council (NSC).
Dr Zakaria Ahmad, Malaysia's chef-de-mission for the games, said they
must strive to give their best to make the country proud and to make a
name for themselves in the games whose standard is higher than the
Commonwealth Games.
He said it could not be denied that there were athletes in the past who
were more concerned about the rewards than giving their best in sports
tournaments. (END)

Matin should stay home, says Koh


MATIN Guntali revived weightlifting in Malaysia when he lifted a silver
medal at the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games and then went on to win
three bronze medals at the Kuala Lumpur version of the Games in September.
Matin has been selected for the Bangkok Asian Games with Hidayat Hamidon
but he should have declined selection, said Malaysia's first Commonwealth
gold medallist Koh Eng Tong.
"I planned to retire after the KL Games but when the Olympic Council of
Malaysia (OCM) selected me for the Asian Games, I accepted it as a
personal challenge. Now I feel good for another two Commonwealth Games,"
said Matin, 34.
With the inclusion of Matin, up-and-coming Rahman Ahmad was sidelined.
"Matin is a good lifter but age is not on his side," said Koh.
"I know for a fact that at 34, weightlifters tend to lose their touch
and even though the mind is willing, the body loses its strength. He will
find it harder to add the kilos on the barbell.
"Matin should have declined and allowed Rahman to compete at the Asian
Games and even if Rahman does not win any medals, he will gain the much
needed exposure."
Rahman, 23, still holds the national record of 107kg in the 54kg snatch
while Matin holds the clean and jerk record of 135kg which he lifted at
the KL Games.
Although it is too late to rally for Rahman for the Asian Games, Koh
said the selectors could learn from this.
"They should not rely on ageing stars because by doing so they are
neglecting the youth who will lead Malaysia into the next century," said
"The National Sports Council (NSC) must start preparing young athletes
for the 2002 Olympics and the 2006 Asian Games which Malaysia hope to
But Coach William Yeo feels that Matin is good for another 10 years of
active competition.
"He might not return from the Asian Games with a medal, but he is surely
good for another two commonwealth Games. Watch him at Manchester, he will
be at his best then," said Yeo.

Nurul Huda, Saravanan named year's Olympians


NATIONAL shooter Nurul Huda Baharin and walker G. Saravanan won the 1998
Olympian Award yesterday for their sterling performances at the Kuala
Lumpur Commonwealth Games in September.
Nurul and Saravanan received RM10,000 and a medal each from Yang Di-
Pertuan Agong Tuanku Ja'afar Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur.
The award was a timely boost as the duo will be representing the country
at the Asian Games in Bangkok next month.
Nurul, 24, won the individual air rifle gold despite wearing a cast on
her arm. A few weeks before the KL Games, she broke her arm in a
motorcycle accident.
Her grit and determination won Malaysia's first and only shooting gold
medal. Her 493.3 points is a new Commonwealth Games record.
Nurul, of Kedah, took up competitive shooting in 1995 and caught the
nation's attention when she won golds in the individual sport rifle three
position and team event at the Jakarta Sea Games last year.
She proved her worth again winning three gold medals at the Langkawi
Commonwealth Shooting Championship last year.
Nurul also received the SAM-Benson and Hedges '97 award and the '97
National Sports Award together with teammate Roslina Bakar.
While Nurul was a clear winner among nominees Thye Chee Kiat, Carolyn Au
Yong, El Regina Tajuddin and Sarina Sundarajah of rhythmic gynastics,
Saravanan faced a tough challenge for the award.
He edged bowler Kenny Ang who won two gold medals; weightlifter Hidayat
Hamidon who won a gold and a silver; and champion boxer Sapok Biki for the
Saravanan, from Penang, came out tops with his 4:10.5 effort to win the
gruelling 50km walks.
Meanwhile, the 1998 IOC Trophy for Sports Ethics was awarded to the
Ministry of Education for their sports and physical education programmes.

Nurul confident of gold


NURUL Huda Bharin's arm is still giving her problems but the Kedah-born
shooter is confident of pulling off an upset at the Asian Games.
She is still undergoing physiotherapy for her arm which was broken a
week before the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games. The broken arm didn't
prevent her from winning the air rifle gold.
Nurul is back in training and is shooting practice rounds of 493. She
had shot a record 493.3 for her Commonwealth gold.
"I feel good. As for the rest of the field, I don't know how good they
are," said the policewoman after receiving the Olympian of The Year Award
on Friday.
"But this is how I like it. The less I know about the rest, the more
confident I will be when the time comes to shoot."
The other shooters for Bangkok are Emran Zakaria, Abdul Mutalib, Aziz
Brahim, Roslina Bakar and Sarihati Awang.

No surprises expected from Adun's lads


MALAYSIA have never won a boxing medal at the Asian Games and Bangkok is
expected to be no different.
Sapok Biki, the best Malaysian bet for an outside bronze, fractured a
finger during training and the hopes are now on Rakib Ahmad, Adnan Yusoh
and B. Muruguthevan.
The task of facing some of the best boxers in the world is surely
intimidating, if not daunting, but coach Adun Pasu is confident his
charges will acquit themselves well.
"We all know that the Asian Games field is tougher than the Commonwealth
Games, but one bronze is within our reach," said Adun who declined to name
the hopeful.
Besides having to endure the steely fists of the Thais and Indonesians,
the Malaysian fighters will come up with fighters from Iran, Uzbekestian
and South Korea.
The Thais, who won only three golds at the previous Games in Hiroshima,
have set an ambitious target of 24 gold medals and three are expected to
be won from boxers.
Bantamweight Somluck Khamsing, a national hero since he won Thailand's
first Olympic gold medal two years ago, is his country's best hope.
The Thai prediction is no mere talk as they have been preparing the past
two years.
The Malaysians head for Bangkok on Nov 12 and Adun has lined up some
sparring sessions with Thai fighters.
Adun, who trained the Thailand national team from 1989-1994 before his
appointment by the National Sports Council (NSC), said the boxers will be
more than adequately prepared.
However, the Thai coach was being realistlic when he said that Malaysia
should not place much hope on the coming Asian Games and instead prepare
for the 2006 Games which Malaysia hope to host.

Athletes low on confidence


DEPUTY Sports Minister Datuk Loke Yuen Yow has visited all Asian Games-
bound athletes and he believes that they lack confidence.
"There is no reason the athletes should feel inferior because they have
just competed against some of the world's best at the Kuala Lumpur
Commonwealth Games," said Loke after visiting the hockey, squash, swimming
and cycling contingents yesterday.
"But I do sense its (lack of confidence) presence in almost all the
"That is why I tell them to rely on the Malaysia Boleh! motto to
overcome their fears.
"We have world-class squash players and our women are tipped to win gold
in Bangkok, if they don't succumb to pressure.
"As for hockey, swimming and cycling, our athletes will find the going
extremely tough and only a high level of confidence can see them through."
Chef-de-mission Dr Zakaria Ahmad, whose initial target was two golds,
has increased it to four after visiting the athletes.
"After visiting all the athletes and checking on their preparations, we
have set a new target of four golds which is not beyond our reach.
Anything more will be a bonus," said Zakaria.
For the Asian Games, the NSC paid for the rentals at the Bukit Jalil
Sports Complex because most associations can't afford the high cost of
rental imposed by the Merdeka Stadium Board.
"It has been great training at the National Squash Centre at Bukit Jalil
as the facilities are world class, but once the athletes return from
Bangkok, we will head for the Jalan Duta courts to train as the rental at
Bukit Jalil is too steep," said Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia
(SRAM) executive director Kol (rtd) Wong Ah Jit.
"It would be a waste actually, if the national athletes don't utilise
the billion Ringgit facilities.
"We have made several suggestions to the Merdeka Stadium Board on how to
fully utilise the squash courts. We even agreed to bring in more business
but have yet to get a reply from them. So it is definitely back to the
Jalan Duta courts for us."

Cheah escapes after apology


THE BA of Malaysia (BAM) took into consideration Cheah Soon Kit's clean
track record and a letter of apology, dated Dec 4, when they decided not
to take any action against the shuttler for skipping training.
Cheah, who arrived minutes after the BAM Exco ended their meeting, had a
closed door discussion with BAM president Datuk Dr Abdullah Fadzil Che Wan
before the announcement.
"The matter has been resolved amicably. Actually it was just a family
quarrel which was blown out of propotion. With the letter of apology, the
BAM Exco let him off the hook without any action," said Fadzil.
Cheah, 30, a veteran of three Asian Games, was not selected for the
Bangkok assignment because his partner Choong Tan Fook suffered an eye
injury during training. The injury ruled him out for three weeks.
The pair of Pang Cheh Chang-Cheah Soon Thoe were selected instead.
Piqued by his exclusion, Cheah stopped attending training since Nov 19
when it was disclosed that he was out of the Games squad.
"The matter is now closed and all the parties have agreed to forget and
start afresh. This will be taken as a learning process in the BAM family,"
said Fadzil.
Cheah had apologised to the management committee and the panel of
coaches for skipping training.
"I regret not seeking a clarification on why the decision to exclude me
was made. On my own, I thought of the worse possible scenario which upset
me greatly," read his letter.
"I hope the BAM Exco accept my apology and I pledge to abide by my
contract with BAM in future. This also includes attending training when
Cheah declined to go into details and said in future if he is in doubt,
he will consult the panel of coaches.
"Although the BAM Exco let Cheah off the hook this time, this does not
mean that we condone such behaviour. Cheah, or any other player, will face
disciplinary action if they go missing without reason," said Fadzil.
National coach Morten Frost Hansen was relieved that the matter has been
"We need to focus on the Asian Games which will be a tough assignment.
With the matter put to rest, the shuttlers can leave for Bangkok today on
a happy note."
When asked about Cheah's future with the national side, Frost said he
will play a crucial role in the Malaysian Open next year in July and the
ABC Championships which Malaysia will host on Sept 22-26.
"He will probably resume training with the team after the Asian Games
and we will work out a plan to make our presence felt at the Malaysian
Open and the ABC Championships," said Frost.