THREE plucky women from the “Land Below the Wind”– Stephanie Chok, Mariana Mohammad and Rita Gani - are set to create a storm in the third Malaysia AXN Challenge at the KLCC Park next Saturday.
Meet Team Sabah comprising Chok, a former national junior swimmer; Mariana, the overall women’s champion of the recent Malakoff Malaysian Duathlon Series (MMDS); and Rita, a former national women’s footballer.
“We have a well balanced team. We believe we combine well together. Each of us have our individual strength,” said Chok, who joined the National Sports Institute (NSI) in Bukit Jalil as a sports psychologist two months ago.
Chok, 24, represented the country in the 2001 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games women’s cycling road race. But she has taken up adventure racing like a duck to water. After all, she swims as much as 15km each week.
Mariana, the 27-year-old spunky housewife Mariana, cycles about 250km each week.
Rita, a 28-year-old Ampang Jaya policewoman, runs about 40km a week.
Chok, a sports science graduate from Universiti Malaya, has known Mariana for the past 10 years. Both of them got to know Rita when the latter competed in the Powerman last year.
Last year, Chok was the undisputed national female triathlete in the country.
“The AXN Challenge appeals to us because it offers more disciplines. Success hinges on completing the race together as a team.
“Our major test will be navigation because we are not very familiar with Kuala Lumpur. We are also anxious about the mystery test,” added Chok, who is vying for a place in the triathlon in the Manila SEA Games.
Mariana emerged as the MMDS overall champion with victories in the 18 to 29 years age group at Dataran Merdeka and Lumut before she lifted the women’s Open category in the final series in Johor Bharu.
Mariana, a mother of two, will be joining her husband Glenn Ford, an Air Atlanta-Icelandic pilot based in Spain, in Madrid three days after the race.
Former national woman footballer Rita, who represented Malaysia in the 2001 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games and the 2003 Vietnam SEA Games, is looking forward to the kayaking event.
“We are going to step up the pace. We want to present Mariana with a memorable farewell gift,” said Rita.
Mariana said: “We have to be mentally strong as we want to push ourselves to the limit. Completing the challenge will be the greatest experience that we will get to share together.”
Chok’s father, Chok Kui Eng, and mother, Elaine Chok, were in town recently to witness her convocation.
“Since young, she has been playful and mischievous. She completed all three disciplines (swimming, cycling and running) when she was in primary school.
“Sports has moulded Stephanie into a better person. She has done well especially in her studies,” said Chok Kui Eng.
Teams are expected to complete the 50km course around the city in five to nine hours.
In this season’s race, participants are required to abseil from a height of 85m, the highest altitude ever attempted in the adventure race’s history.
The flying fox covers a distance of 125m. To test the participants’ physical strength, endurance, composure and courage, contestants will also have to climb an urban structure.
Besides mystery quizzes, the other disciplines include mountain biking, ropes traversing, running, kayaking and water obstacles.
The event presents a rare opportunity for participants to experience a day of escapade around the city’s renowned landmarks.
Participants will only get to know the course on the day of the event.
SPE Networks – Asia marketing executive director Vincent Sim said the organisers were concerned about the haze that had enveloped KL.
“We are contemplating postponing the event from Aug 20 to September,” Sim revealed.
The event, organised by AXN Asia, is sponsored by Perodua and Sprite Remix and supported by Tourism Malaysia.
The Malaysia AXN Challenge 2005 is open to participants above 18 years.
The challenge has three categories - men’s team (three men), women’s team (three women) and mixed team (either two men and one woman or two women and one man).
The champions of each category will pick up RM1,800 and trophies. Besides medals, the second and third placed teams will receive RM1,200 and RM1,000 respectively.
The inaugural Malaysia challenge, held in 2003, drew 50 teams. 0A total of 58 teams took part in the event last year.
Sixty-nine teams have signed up for the challenge this year, a figure that has exceeded the organiser’s expectation.
Besides KL, the urban adventure race will also held in Hong Kong and Manila (Philippines).
For more information, log on to www.axn-asia.com or call 03-8024 5152.
STEPHANIE CHOK Age: 24 Hometown: Kampung Papar, Kota Kinabalu Height: 1.70m Weight: 58kg Occupation: Psychologist, National Sports Institute Ambition: Lecturer Speciality: Swimming Favourite Sport: Triathlon Favourite Pastime: Watching VCD, playing futsal Favourite Hangout: Bangsar Favourite Food: Pasta Dream Outing: To tour the Philippines later this year Most Treasured Moment: Voted 2004 Universiti Malaya Sportswoman of Year Achievements: Represented Malaysia 1994 Asian Schools Swimming Championships, 2001 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games women’s cycling road race; Triathlon 2004 - Won major races in the national women’s category
MARIANA MOHAMMAD Age: 27 Hometown: Kota Kinabalu Height: 1.53m Weight: 47kg Occupation: Housewife Speciality: Cycling Favourite Pastime: Reading, dancing Favourite Hangout: Hard Rock Cafe Favourite Food: Western food Dream Outing: To visit Madrid Most Treasured Moment: 2005 MMDS women’s overall champion Achievements: 2005 Second in Menteri Besar Selangor Cycling Cup women’s 20km scratch race; 2005 Queen of the Mountain (Fraser’s Hill climb) in Proton GP Raspeda
RITA GANI Age: 28 Hometown: Inanam, Kota Kinabalu Height: 1.52m Weight: 48kg Occupation: Policewoman Speciality: Running Favourite Pastime: Window shopping Favourite Hangout: Bangsar Favourite Food: Koay teow soup Most Treasured Experience: 2004 four-day Langkawi Challenge Achievements: 2003 Semi-final at Vietnam SEA Games women’s football; 2004 Third in Powerman women’s elite category