KUCHING: About 880 athletes representing four zones across the state took part in the rebranded Sukan Sarawak (Suksar), after a 27-year hiatus, to claim bragging rights as the inaugural champion.
The Southern Zone, consisting of host Kuching, Serian and Kota Samarahan divisions, sent the biggest contingent of 245 athletes for the games which end on Sunday.
This was followed by the Northern Zone with 230 athletes from Miri, Bintulu and Limbang divisions.
The other two participating contingents are the Central Zone, made up of athletes from Sibu, Kapit and Mukah, as well as the Western Zone consisting of Betong, Sri Aman and Sarikei divisions.
The meet, open to those aged 19 years and below, aimed to give athletes experience in preparation for the 2018 Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Perak.
“We are pleased to bring back this once prestigious sporting event after a 27-year hiatus.
“The last time Suksar was held in 1990, Sarawak went on to become Sukma champion. The state also repeated the feat in the next two Malaysia Games until Sarawak was feared by other states and recognised as a sports powerhouse of the nation.
“It is time we bring back sporting glory to the state,” state Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said at the Suksar opening ceremony here yesterday.
“Suksar is about identifying potential athletes from all over Sarawak, particularly those from the interior.
“We have talents waiting to be found and nurtured to become top athletes. I hope this inaugural Suksar will help propel sports in Sarawak.
“We want to see more athletes like Pandelela Rinong (national diving queen) and sprint king Watson Nyambek,” he said.
Suksar, to be held biennially in between the Malaysia Games, will feature 14 events such as swimming, weightlifting, cycling, archery, athletics, silat, rugby, sepak takraw, karate, Muay Thai, lawn bowl, judo, handball, badminton and petanque, as well as four events for special athletes –namely swimming, power lifting, archery and athletics.
Abdul Karim, who represented Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, said Sarawak is serious about reclaiming the throne as Sukma champion once again and has set its sights on Ipoh next year.
Also present at the opening ceremony at Sarawak Unity Stadium were Sarawak Sports Corporation chief executive officer Dr Ong Kong Swee and Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Snowdan Lawan.
Some 400 technical and general volunteers will be involved throughout the four-day meet.
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