By CHARLES FERNANDEZcharlesf@thestar.comPhotos by ART CHEN
IF last year's successful debut and this year’s championships are any measure, then the Uniten Rowing International has all the signs of getting bigger and better.
In the inaugural competition last year, there were only five entries, all local institutions of higher learning, but this year saw the participation of international universities as well.
The Malaysian universities were Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten), University Malaya (UM), University Sains Malaysia (USM) and Multimedia University (MMU) while the foreign universities were Singapore Nanyang University and the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
University Teknology Malaysia (UTM), who were the inaugural champions, retained the title by emerging tops in three categories, which made them overall winners, followed closely by Singapore Nanyang University and University Malaya in second and third place, respectively.
UTM were champions in the women’s single scull event, a 2,000 meter event, the 2,000 meter Women Coxed Four event and the 5,000 meter Men’s Coxed Eight event and were runners-up for another three events, giving them a total of 77 points.
The invitational competition, which was held at the Water Sports Centre in Precinct 6, Putrajaya, attracted more than 3,000 people, mostly secondary school students, as this year’s competition was also open to local secondary schools in special category events.
While participants flexed their muscles on the water, there was excitement on the shore as the organisers brought in still rowing machines for students below 18 to showcase their skill and win prizes.
Local entertainers also demonstrated their rowing skills on the still rowing machines.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapha Mohamed, who officiated at the close of the event, said Malaysian universities can make this an annual event and as a platform to strengthen their teams so they would be able to match their counterparts from universities outside the country.
“This kind of sport is important in our efforts to create competent graduates who are all-rounders.
“The event also serves as a test of fitness, mental and physical strength for the participants,” he said.
He hoped the Uniten Rowing International would become a prestigious rowing challenge that not only attracted Malaysian universities but also participation from prominent universities like Cambridge and Oxford.
TNB president and chief executive officer Datuk Che Khalib Mohamad Noh said TNB is committed towards making this sport popular and has embarked on promoting the event to schools and the Malaysian Rowing Association (Perdama) is assisting to promote the event to other local institutions of higher learning.