Friday, November 11, 2011

Malaysian athletes capable of a golden surge in the first two days

PALEMBANG: The women’s waterpolo team have given Malaysia a medal even before the action officially begins tomorrow after the opening ceremony in Palembang today.

The team are assured at least a bronze in their maiden outing because only three teams have entered for the competition.

National walker Teoh Boon Lim is expected to give Malaysia a golden start in the early hours of Saturday when he takes to the streets of Jakabaring for the men’s 20km walk. Boon Lim is the defending champion and holds the fastest time in the region this year.

SEA Games record holder Tan Song Hwa is expected to provide double cheer for athletics when she steps out for the women’s hammer throw later in the afternoon.

The shooters fired blanks in Laos 2009, but winning a bronze medal at the Asian Games in Guangzhou last year, the first by a Malaysian woman shooter, will be motivation enough for Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi in the 50m rifle three-position at the Jakabaring Shooting Range.

Shahera Rahim Raja can also be counted to spring a surprise in the same event.
In karate, reigning Asian champion Leong Tze Wai will be out to live up to his billing to hand Malaysia an early gold from Jakarta in the men’s individual kata (non-sparring) when the competition begins tomorrow.
Tze Wai, however, will have to put up with a strong challenge from the host country as their exponent Faisal Zainuddin is the defending champion.

Tze Wai also has a shot at gold when he partners Lim Chee Wei and Kam Kah Sam in a bid to improve on the silver in the men’s kata team event from Laos.

There is also a possibility of a fifth gold medal on the first day of full competition with the men’s gymnastics artistic team brimming with confidence following a month-long training stint in China.

It could be a quiet day at the pool tomorrow unless swimmer Foo Jian Beng can spring a surprise in the men’s 50m butterfly, the first time the discipline is contested at the SEA Games.

Top swimmer Daniel Bego, who made a big splash with a five-gold performance in Laos, pulled out on the eve of the team’s departure to Palembang on medical advice as he has not fully recovered from operations to both his shoulders.

Yap See Tuan also stands an outside chance of delivering gold in the men’s 200m breaststroke.
But the karate squad should help push Malaysia’s gold medal tally to 11 by Sunday as the majority of the kumite exponents take to the mat.

P. Arivalagan, the only seven-time SEA Games champion, is looking at a golden swansong to his coaching career and has boldly predicted that his charges are capable of garnering six gold medals.

Those favoured to strike gold on Sunday are Asian championships silver medallist Shaharudin Jamaludin (men’s below 75kg), Guangzhou Asian Games silver medallist and two-time SEA Games gold medallist G. Yamini (women’s below 61kg), former Asian junior champion G. Yugneswary (women’s below 50kg) and Asian championships bronze medallist Loganesha Rao (men’s below 55kg).

Malaysia can also expect a clean sweep from the divers on the first day of competition Sunday.
World University Games finalist Cheong Jun Hoong and Wendy Ng Yan Yee can be counted to retain the gold medal in the women’s 3m springboard individual while London Olympics-bound Bryan Nickson Lomas should defend his 10m platform title with little difficulty.

National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Zolkples Embong is expecting karate, diving, shooting and athletics to provide the early cheers for Malaysia.

”We are more concerned with the athletes funded under our programme.
“We don’t just expect the elites to deliver but also the ones from the back-up squads to produce quality performances even if they don’t win,” he said.

”This is the essence of the SEA Games and that is why we have projected a modest gold medal target that left out the athletes not funded by us.”

NSC have targeted at least 40 gold medals although a figure of 60 was projected during the team managers’ meeting earlier.


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