A TINY Malaysian flag flutters on top of a hill near Kota Kinabalu, raising smiles of approval from a group of people gathered there with huge backpacks. It rained the whole morning but minutes after the group arrived, the skies cleared as if inviting them to fly down the Kokol hills from a height of about 900m. They were paragliders and nothing makes them more happy than clear skies and a steady breeze.
Christopher Lammert (left) makes a final check with coach Captain (R) Haznain Ngamil and Asmawati Ahmad (R) before taking off from Kokol hills in Kota Kinabalu. — Picture by Malai Rosmah Tuah.
Among them were Christopher Lammert and Asmawati Ahmad, who are preparing for the Sea Games next month. They are part of the national team eyeing six gold medals in the Games where paragliding will be contested for the first time.
They aim to win in three events (men and women) -- spot landing accuracy, race to goal and distance paragliding.
Keeping a close watch on the paragliders was coach Captain (R) Haznain Ngamil who is also Asmawati's husband.
Lammert said the Kokol hills were one of two main areas where they train regularly.
"Sometimes we drive all the way to the Lohan hills in Ranau (about 140km from Kota Kinabalu) and train there.
"We fly regularly because we need to maintain our form in all three events," said Lammert, who added that Malaysia is expected to send seven paragliders each in the men and women's categories respectively.
Lammert was the best Malaysian finisher in the inaugural Paragliding Accuracy World Cup circuit championship held in the Lohan hills earlier this year and was third in a pre-Sea Games competition held in Puncak, Jawa Tengah last month.