PETALING JAYA: The pressure may be getting to the national shooters targeted to excel in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. And the management have imposed a gag order on them.
The shooters, who will be leaving for Melbourne tomorrow for a two-week training stint, are not allowed to be interviewed by the media.
Veteran Nurul Hudda Baharin, who will be making her third appearance in the Commonwealth Games, said: “You have to get permission from the management first. I'm sorry. I cannot answer your questions.”
The National Shooting Association of Malaysia (NSAM) secretary, Jasni Shaari, said that the shooters in the elite programme, who have signed a contract with the National Sports Council (NSC), were not allowed to talk about policy matters or administrative orders.
“Maybe the coaches do not want their shooters to be distracted by the press,” said Jasni.
The team management may have their reasons to put a gag on the shooters, especially when some of them failed to perform up to expectations in the just concluded President Ally T.H. Ong Championships at the Subang Range.
Nurul only finished fourth in the 50m rifle three-position on Sunday and there is concern over whether she can reproduce the form which saw her bagging gold in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games. Nurul will compete in only the 50m rifle three-position event in Melbourne.
Two other junior shooters in the Games squad – Muslifah Zulkifli and Mariani Rafali – failed to even qualify for the final of the women's 10m air rifle event.
However, some of the shooters showed they are on course to get it right in Melbourne.
Hameleay Abdul Mutalib shot down his first national record in the men's 50m rifle prone event on Friday.
Bibiana Ng and Nur Suryani Taibi had also set new national marks in the women's air pistol and air rifle prone competitions respectively.
Coach Mohd Sabki Din is optimistic that there is still time for the shooters to improve.
“The rifle and pistol shooters had just returned from a two-week centralised stint in Langkawi on Thursday,” he said.
“They had to compete in this competition the following week and some of them were feeling tired.”
Hameleay was the only rifle shooter who did not train in Langkawi because he was committed to the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) training course in Cheras.
Sabki said that they had no reason to be alarmed by the inconsistency of the shooters even though the Games is just around the corner.
“There is enough time and I think the shooters will improve. The most important thing is for them to strike it right during the Games and not now,” he said.
“They can shoot very good scores in a local championships but what's the use if their form drop in Melbourne?”