Monday, 28 July 2014 | MYT 12:36 AM
Hafifi's first gold should inspire the rest to deliver
Mohd Hafifi Mansor in action during the men’s 69kg weightlifting final at the Clyde Auditorium. — GLENN GUAN / The Star
FINALLY, Malaysia have a Commonwealth Games gold medallist in Glasgow!
What a relief it was when weightlifter Mohd Hafifi Mansor finally delivered the country’s first glitter of gold after three days of action.
And it came in the early hours of Sunday morning in Malaysia – at 4.30am to be exact (according to my colleague Eric Samuel) – and late Saturday evening here in Glasgow.
And how appropriate that it should come on the eve of Hari Raya Aidilfitri back home.
Surely that gold medal is a perfect gift to all Malaysians for an auspicious day.
Hopefully, it will help lift a bit of the gloom that has enveloped the country following the latest air disaster when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.
A total of 298 people – passengers and crew - were killed in the tragedy on July 17.
That was the second air tragedy to hit Malaysia after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 8. That flight had 227 passengers from 15 nations and 12 crew members.
So, Hafifi’s gold medal – in the men’s 69kg category – should bring cheer to all Malaysians starved of success, thus far, in the ongoing Commonwealth Games.
The gold haul should rise over the next few days and – hopefully – raise interest in the Games back home.
Weightlifting may not be the most popular sport among Malaysians, but a gold is still a gold.
So, let’s give Hafifi credit for going up there and doing what he had been trained to do.
His team-mate, Mohd Zulhelmi Pisol had earlier got the ball rolling with a bronze in the 56kg category on Friday.
Another athlete who deserves praise is rhythmic gymnast Wong Poh San. The 18-year-old may not have won a gold, but she has certainly won our hearts.
The teenager performed admirably and gracefully against a high-quality field to grab a silver and a bronze in the individual ribbon and hoop finals.
Amy Kwan, Poh San and Fatin Zakirah also deserve a pat on the back for battling against the odds to win a bronze in the rhythmic gymnastics team event.
Shooter Nur Suryani Taibi, who shot down a bronze in the women’s 10m air rifle, is another who did well.
Let’s not forget our women’s table-tennis team, either. They did well to reach the final.
It’s just unlucky that they had to meet a Singapore team laden with players imported from China.
At least these athletes delivered, unlike others who crumbled under the weight of expectations.
Some names come to mind, like men’s squash player Ong Beng Hee, women shooters Joseline Cheah and Bibiana Ng and two-time Commonwealth Games lawn bowls gold medallist Siti Zalina Ahmad.
Let’s not even talk about our rugby Sevens team. Everyone knew they were in for a mauling even before they left Malaysian shores.
Beng Hee’s loss, especially, seems hard to take. It’s not like he lost to a top-ranked player. He succumbed to an embarrassing first-round loss to unheralded Zambian Kelvin Ndhlovu.
Beng Hee said he was down with flu but, surely, for someone with his wealth of experience, he should have done much better.
Shooter Nur Ayuni Farhana Abdul Halim was a tad unlucky, though. Perhaps she could have done better if not for the stress and tension due to her lost luggage.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter which sport you are competing in. A gold is worth its weight no matter what.
Like one of the Scottish commentators said during Sunday’s men’s marathon event, which lacked any big names: “A gold is still a gold. The medal doesn’t say who you are running with.”
So, let’s hope Hafifi’s gold lifts the mood of his fellow athletes in Glasgow – and that of everyone back home.
Sports editor R. Manogaran hopes our athletes will prove everyone wrong and bag more than the 12 gold medals won at the Games in New Delhi four years ago. It may be wishful thinking, but …