PETALING JAYA: A silver at the World Youth Championships and now a top five finish at the World Championships have installed Malaysian sailors Mohd Faizal Norizan and Ahmad Syukri as firm favourites for the gold medal at the Asian Games next month.
Faizal-Syukri managed to secure top 10 finishes, including a win, in five out of the 10 races despite competing against more experienced competitors at the world meet in the 420 class (two person dinghy).
Faizal-Syukri were the best placed Asian pair ahead of Singapore’s Loh Jia Yi-Jonathan Yeo and it was their best ever achievement in the world meet in Germany on Friday.
It came hot on the heels of a silver medal feat at the world junior meet in Tavira, Portugal last month.
Faizal-Syukri won a silver medal behind Jia Yi-Jonathan after chalking up six top 10s, including a win, in nine races.
Faizal-Syukri began their dominance in the 420 class by taking gold at the Myanmar SEA Games last December and went on to bag the title at the Sail the Gulf Regatta in Doha in February.
And Malaysian Yachting Association general manager Afendy Abdullah is confident the eight-year gold medal drought will end in Incheon.
“They have proved their worth as the top ranked Asian sailors in their class and are certainly contenders for the gold,” said Afendy.
Afendy was also optimistic the other sailors will sail home with more medals.
At the Asian Championships in July, Dhiahuddin Rozaini clinched the boys’ Optimist title as Malaysia claimed three silvers and three bronzes at the Games venue.
“We started preparing for the Asian Games immediately after returning from the SEA Games last year. We should improve on the previous haul of two silvers and one bronze from the last Asiad in Guangzhou,” said Afendy, who will be the team manager in South Korea.
Sailing have never failed to deliver medals at the Asian Games since Ryan Tan claimed the boy’s Optimist gold in Hiroshima in 1994. Rufina Tan became the second Malaysian gold medallist when she won the Optimist in Doha in 2006.