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Tuesday October 31, 2006 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday July 7, 2013 MYT 4:45:38 PM
by lim teik huat
PETALING JAYA: Bodybuilder Sazali Samad created history for Malaysia when he won his third Mr Universe title in the 60th edition of the world amateur championships in Ostrava, the Czech Republic, on Sunday night.
Sazali, competing in the below 65kg bantamweight category involving 20 participants, survived three elimination rounds.
In the final, Sazali defeated five-time champion Jose Carlos Santos of Brazil and Anwar Ahmed Mohamad of Egypt to the title.
It is the third time that Sazali has won the bantamweight world title and he is also the first Malaysian in the history of bodybuilding to do so.
Sazali took his first title when Malaysia hosted the championships in 2000 and he repeated the feat in Moscow in 2004. He was the silver medallist in last year’s championships in Shanghai.
The first Malaysian to win a world title was Clancy Ang in 1962.
“I am really excited to win the world title for the third time,” said Sazali in a telephone interview from Ostrava shortly after he was declared the winner.
“I had a close fight with the Brazilian, who was the winner last year. It was the motivation from the National Sports Council (NSC), my association and American coach Milos Sarcev that gave me the confidence to push myself to do well.”
For the 38-year-old, the success was just reward for having to cut short his Hari Raya celebrations with his family. Sazali only spent the first day of Hari Raya with his family in his hometown of Batu Pahat before leaving for Ostrava.
Winning the world title has also lifted his confidence to aim for an Asian Games gold medal in Doha in December. He is a five-time Mr Asia and expectations are high on Sazali to succeed in Doha.
Sazali, who is a policeman in Bukit Aman, said that he would not rest on his laurels.
“It means a lot for the country and for me that I do well in Doha. This is going to be my first Asian Games and I plan to train even harder,” he said.
Sazali did not compete in the 2002 Busan Asiad because he was serving a six-month suspension imposed by the Asian Bodybuilding Federation (ABF) for appearing in a dietary supplement advertisement.
Malaysia were also represented at the world championships by Doha Asiad-bound Liaw Teck Leong. But the 2002 Busan Asiad silver medallist did not make the semi-finals of the below 85kg middleweight category.
Sazali and Teck Leong will be heading for California for a three-week physical and conditioning stint under Sarcev.
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