Weightlifter Siti Zaleha Yusop and brother Zakaria showing off her gold medals for the clean and jerk, and snatch events in the women’s 48kg category at Sukma.
KANGAR: When Pahang’s Siti Zaleha Yusop told her parents she wanted to be a weightlifter, they gave her their blessings.
Zaleha’s father Yusop Othman, a farmer, and mother Azizah Yusof, a homemaker, never stood in the way of her dreams because they knew she could lean on her older brother for advice.
Her brother is former national weightlifter, Zakaria, who is now a Pahang coach.
Zakaria won the gold in the 69kg snatch, and clean and jerk events, at the 2002 Sukma in Penang.
It is clear that the competitive spirit and winning streak runs in the family as the 17-year-old Zaleha on Wednesday bagged two golds in the women’s 48kg category at the 17th Malaysia Games (Sukma) held at the Institute Kem Bina Negara (IKBN) in Kuala Perlis.
Zaleha managed to lift a new personal best of 64kg in the snatch event, 2kg more than her previous record to clinch the gold ahead of second-placed Elly Cascandra Engelbert of Sabah (60kg) and Federal Territories’ Nur Atikah Mahamad Sobri (55kg) in third.
The 17-year-old from Rompin narrowly missed on a second personal best after she managed a lift of 73kg, just 2kg shy of her personal best of 75kg, in the clean and jerk event. Sabah’s Elly, who managed a lift of 66kg, settled for silver while Kedah’s Noor Nisha Izzureen Norzri (62kg) took the bronze.
“I came here with the aim of winning gold. I took home two bronzes last time (at the Pahang Games in 2012). And I managed to achieve what I came here to do, so I’m very thankful for that,” said the Form Five student from SMK Rompin.
“I can’t say it was easier than two years ago. Maybe I had a little more experience this time and it played a part in my win today,” she added.
Zaleha is set to receive a RM6,000 reward as Pahang has offered each athlete who wins a gold medal a reward of RM3,000.
Pahang are ruling the weightlifting roost, having already won five of their targeted six gold medals. With six more days of competition and 13 more events to go, it looks likely they will achieve that target.
On Wednesday, they clinched three gold medals via Mohd Shahrizal Abdul Razak (below 52kg – snatch), Mohd Taufiq Idham Razali (below 52kg – clean and jerk) and Mohd Hazalwafie Izhar Ahmad (below 56kg – snatch).