Thursday, 13 February 2014 | MYT 6:49 PM
Shooting: Hafiz quits ahead of Commonwealth Games
A file picture of Hafiz Adzha. His absence will be strongly felt in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. - Bernama Photo
KUALA LUMPUR: Pistol shooter Hafiz Adzha has dropped a bombshell by quitting the national team – just five months before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The experienced 28-year-old Hafiz is one of four national shooters to have opted out from the elite team this week. The others are Alais Neek Sulong (pistol) and Nurrahimin Abdul Halim and Hisham Adzha (rifle).
But it is the absence of Hafiz that will be strongly felt at the Glasgow Games, to be held from July 21-Aug 4.
He did well at the last Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010 – winning a silver with veteran Hasli Izwan Amir Hasan in the rapid fire pistol pairs.
In 2012, he pulled off the biggest surprise by winning a gold medal in the 25m sports pistol at the South-East Asia Shooting Championships at Subang.
He still holds the national record of 585 points in the 25m sports pistol.
On Thursday, National Sports Council (NSC) shooting sports manager Emran Zakaria confirmed that Hafiz had dropped out “because he is not able to give full commitment any longer”.
Hafiz has landed a new job as a police officer and wants to focus on his new career.
“He has decided to leave because of his job. He is unable to give full commitment to the team. The other three shooters also left for similar reasons,” said Emran.
Since bursting into competitive shooting four years ago, Hafiz has done well to snap at the heels of the 36-year-old Hazli, the king of pistol events in the country.
In fact, in 2012, Hafiz did better than Hazli and it was good to see the healthy rivalry between them.
Without Hafiz and Alais, the men’s pistol will be banking on two seniors, Hazli and Khalel Abdullah, and a new batch of rising stars – Myanmar SEA Games gold medallists Eddy Chew, Johnathan Wong Guanjie, Liew Tack Fai and Ridhuan Mohamed.
Johnathan and Eddy have confirmed their tickets for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow following a strong showing at the Selangor Shooting Championships last month.
Based on these youngsters’ good showing of late, Malaysia should be able to find immediate replacements for Hafiz.
In the women’s pistol events, Malaysia will be counting on Joseline Cheah, Bibiana Ng and Siti Nur Masitah Mohd Badrin to keep the flag flying high in international tournaments this year.
Meanwhile, all the top rifle shooters maintained their positions in the elite team. Hopes will be high on New Delhi Commonwealth Games double gold medallist Nur Suryani Taibi to deliver again this year.
The national shooters are gearing up for their first international tournament – the opening leg of the World Cup in Kuwait next month.