Monday, June 8, 2015

Petanque: Hafizuddin’s effort worth its weight in gold

National petanque player Muhd Hafizuddin Mat Daud with the gold medal he won in the men's singles match at the Singapore SEA Games on Monday. - FAIHAN GHANI/ The STAR
National petanque player Muhd Hafizuddin Mat Daud with the gold medal he won in the men's singles match at the Singapore SEA Games on Monday. - FAIHAN GHANI/ The STAR

SINGAPORE: He never gave up.
Having started the petanque final five-nil down, you would’ve thought it’s all over for Muhd Hafizuddin Mat Daud.
Instead, the 22-year-old pulled off a stunning comeback – high-fiving his coach and pumping his arm each time he made knockout shots – to beat Cambodia’s Thong Chhoeun 13-6 in the singles final at the Padang.
The win also secured Malaysia’s first-ever petanque gold medal in SEA Games history.
The Kelantan-born Hafizuddin lost his opening game in the preliminaries 13-5 to Phoudthala Keokannika of Laos but won his next seven games to secure a place in the semi-final playoffs.
This time he turned the tables on Phoudthala, winning 13-3 in the semi-finals in the morning to set up the gold medal showdown against the Cambodian.
After settling for bronze twice – in Palembang (2011) and Myanmar (2013) – Hafizuddin was in no mood to surrender easily, not with his team-mates egging him on.
“In the final, I found myself trailing and I became emotional. I didn’t want to give up just like that ... it was a chance to win the gold medal,” he said.
“I was down but my coach, my friends ... they all continued to encourage me and that gave me the confidence.
“I started to think that I could do it ... that I could do it for Malaysia.
“I’m very happy and a bit emotional too... this is, after all, Malaysia’s first gold medal in petanque.”
Hafizuddin, who has been playing petanque for the last eight years, hopes that his win will inspire the team to go for gold in the double and triple categories.
Malaysia’s previous best at the SEA Games was winning two silvers and a bronze in Laos in 2009.
The Star Online

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