PENANGITE Muslifah Zulkifli will find herself the centre of attention when she competes in the Sukma shooting competitions, which will be held at the Mantin Range from May 30-June 3.
The 19-year-old Muslifah comes into the Games with a near-perfect qualifying score of 399 in the 10m air rifle event of the T.H. Ally Ong Trophy at the Subang Range last month.
The score was just one point short of equalling the world record a feat only four women in the world have achieved at the international level.
Muslifah, whose effort on that fine Friday afternoon saw her setting two new national records in the air rifle event, said she was going all out to match her achievement again.
The 10m air rifle event is on the first day of competition and I want to give Penang a flying start, she said.
It will not be easy to pull repeat the feat but I believe I can do it if I keep my focus strong on that day. The important thing is for me to stay relaxed and ignore how my competitors are doing.
Adding to her confidence is that Muslifah has managed to shoot a 398 during training with the Penang team at the Waterfall Shooting Range in Penang.
Muslifah will be competing in three individual events. Besides the 10m air rifle event, she will also take part in the sport rifle prone and sports rifle three-position.
But I am focussing on doing well in the 10m air rifle. I have spent most time preparing for it, said Muslifah, who commutes by ferry everyday from the mainland to train with the other Penang shooters.
She stays in Seberang Perai and is studying at the Tun Abdul Razak Institute of Technology.
If Muslifah lives up to her billing and wins the air rifle individual gold, it will inspire the rest of the Penang team to do well.
I only managed a silver in my first Sukma appearance in Kota Kinabalu in the air rifle team. I believe Penang should do better this time, she added.
Penang bagged a total of two gold, five silver and two bronze medals at the last Games.
The two gold medals came from the 50m free pistol men's team and the 25m sport pistol women's team.
Vietnam SEA Games gold medallist Nurul Hudda Baharin, who held the previous national record of 395 in the air rifle event until last month, said that the Penang junior reminded her of the days when she was young.
I have been trying to shoot such scores when I started competitively. But she has managed to pull it off at her age. I will not be surprised if she can hold her nerves and do it in Sukma, said Nurul, who set her national mark when she won the gold in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.
Muslifah is still young and has the potential to become one of the top shooters not just in the country but also in South-East Asia.