National shooter Eddy Chew (right) celebrates with the Malaysian team after bagging the 50m free pistol gold medal at the Myanmar SEA Games last year. - Filepic
KUALA LUMPUR: Youngster Eddy Chew went to last year’s Myanmar SEA Games as an unknown. He returned home as one of Malaysia’s heroes.
The 18-year-old shocked the field in the men’s 50m free pistol event to end Malaysia’s 30-year-old gold drought. Eddy also bagged a silver (men’s 10m air pistol) and a bronze (men’s 50m free pistol team) with Johnathan Wong Guanjie and Abdul Hadi Abdul Malek to become the most successful Malaysian shooter at the Games.
He was immediately touted as the next rising star.
“Do I feel like I’ve made it? No. I have yet to achieve my goal – that is to qualify for the Olympics like Datuk Sabiamad (Abdul Ahad),” said 19-year-old Eddy who hopes to emulate his idol.
Sabiamad competed at the Los Angeles Games in 1984.
“My aim is to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. It’s going to be a tough road to Rio, but I’ll give it my best shot,” he added.
Eddy’s involvement in shooting began at the age of nine when his father Chew Lee Seng, an avid hunter, took him and his siblings to the Batu Pahat Shooting Association.
Eddy was only nine then and he confessed he didn’t really warm to the idea of picking up the sport. But he changed his mind after a week.
“I was afraid at first. I didn’t really understand the mechanics of the pistol. I was scared of being shot,” said Eddy.
“But my dad assured me that it was safe. We went there about three or four times that week and it sort of became fun because I got to do it with my siblings. Soon I got hooked. What was supposed to be a fun outing at the range got me interested,” he added.
Eddy was then put under the guidance of Russian coach Nikolaev Viktor, a former military man and European double bronze medallist.
Eddy said he was grateful to Victor for moulding him into a good marksman.
“Viktor taught me many things. It’s still in here (pointing to his head). He said everyone can shoot a 10. But how many can keep shooting 10s consistently? It is all about focus and being consistent. That’s what I try to apply now,” said Eddy.
Eddy also paid tribute to Johor shooter Lu Yeu Sing.
“When I was growing up, I also looked up to Yeu Sing. I still do until today. These two men shaped and inspired me to be the shooter I am today,” he added.
After two years on the Johor state team, Eddy got his first taste of competition at the tender age of 11 when he competed in the Johor Under-15 Championships in 2006.
He failed to win any medals, but his talent shone through and it earned him the Young Shooter award.
He continued to work hard and things took a positive turn when he finished in the top six in the SEA Games qualifiers in 2009.
“I only finished sixth. Only the top three were selected to go. I was disappointed at the missed opportunity, but everyone said I did quite well. That’s when I knew I could make the national team one day,” said Eddy, who continued to represent Johor until 2012.
In 2013, he received a big break when he was called up to join the national development team. It proved to be a year to remember for him as he went on to make a name at the Myanmar SEA Games and was duly promoted to the national senior team this year.