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Sunday August 27, 2006 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday July 6, 2013 MYT 2:50:48 PM
by lim teik huat
PETALING JAYA: It's been a great week for Malaysian sports – and especially so for Sarawak.
The first World Junior Wushu Championships was held in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia came through with flying colours, both as great hosts and a third-place finish with a total haul of 6-8-7.
Vietnam finished slightly better with 8-8-7, thanks to their sanshou boxers who bagged three gold medals on the final day while China, as expected, were a class above to finish with 16-1-0.
But it was Sarawak that stood out in the championships. Of the 10 Malaysian exponents, all of whom took home medals, six were from Sarawak. And the six accounted for more than half of the 21 medals won in four days of competition.
Kimberly Goh Yuen Yuen and Gladys Molling gave Malaysia a cracking start on the first day of the wushu competition when they bagged gold medals in their respective events.
Sarawak has wushu training centres at all levels. There are seven youth development centres, three centres of excellence and one elite training centre in Kuching.
The elite training centre is under the charge of a Chinese coach Zhong Huimin. Four Sarawakians came from the excellence centre in Kuching - Gladys, Ho Jong Xian, Belinda Liew and Alvin Foo.
Another Sarawakian – Bryan Sony Lah, who is from the Kayan community, came from another training centre in Miri.
For Sarawak, the success of the exponents made amends for the bitterness at Sukma (Malaysia Games) in Alor Star three months ago.
Sarawak had been overall champions since wushu was accepted into Sukma in 2000 but they finished third for the first time in Alor Star, a bitterly disputed outcome with cries of biased judging.
Malaysian team manager James Ting, who is also the Sarawak team coach, was delighted with the performance of their athletes.
“Sarawak have always concentrate a lot on junior development. The state Sports Council also been very supportive and they do not turn down our requests for overseas training and to get foreign coaches.
“This is why wushu in Sarawak have been on a strong foundation for some years and we able to supply most of the exponents for the national team.
“Currently, four of our exponents are in the senior team, including Pui Fook Chien, who won gold in the World Championships in Vietnam last year,” he said.
Sarawak indeed has reason to celebrate.
Daniel Bego, another Sarawakian, made history when he became the first Malaysian to win a swimming medal at world-level when he picked up a silver at the World Junior Swimming Championship in Rio de Janeiro. And he has a chance for more.
Elizabeth Jimie, meanwhile, made waves in Bukit Jalil when she delivered Malaysia's first gold medal at the World Junior Diving Championships.
While Sarawak played a big part in Malaysian wushu success, the contributions of states like Malacca, Perak and Kedah cannot be discounted.
Koo Chee Zhong, the best performer for Malaysia with two golds and two silvers, is from Perak while double gold medallist Ng Say Yoke is from Kedah.
The remaining members of the Malaysian team – Chai Fong Wei and Ong Shi Chuan are from Batu Berendam in Malacca.
”Our juniors have showed they are not lagging at the world level. The challenge is for them to maintain this when they compete in future overseas competitions,” said national coach Ho Ro Bin, who was the first Malaysian to win a gold medal in wushu at the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
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