KUALA LUMPUR: The Wong brothers – Her Jien and Her Jean – have won honours in national age-group taekwondo championships.
And fresh from a 45-day training stint in Xian, China, the brothers will be out to pull off the same feat when they compete for Malaysia in sanshou (Chinese boxing) at the inaugural World Junior Wushu Championships, which begins tomorrow at Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium in Cheras.
The 18-year-old Her Jien is a black belt holder in taekwondo and got involved in sanshou four years ago. The 16-year-old Her Jean followed suit two years ago and both of them are looking forward to representing the country in the World Juniors.
“We had the support of our parents. Our taekwondo skills certainly helped us to become better sanshou exponents,” said Her Jien, who will compete in the 56kg weight category.
“I postponed my studies at the TAR College to commit myself to training with the national team. I hope my sacrifices will pay off with a medal.”
Her Jien did not compete in the national junior championships in Penang in March because he was no longer eligible to do so. But his younger brother competed and won the 52kg category competition, which was good enough to earn him a place in the sanshou squad for the World Juniors.
There are 12 gold medals at stake in sanshou, which sees an exponent vying to kick, punch and grapple his rival to earn points. A bout comprises three rounds, lasting 90 seconds each. Using one's elbow or knee is not allowed.
The Wong brothers and Lee Wai Loong, who will compete in the boys' 60kg weight division, were sent to Xian to prepare for the World Juniors while five more exponents – three boys and two girls – trained in Ipoh under Phan Poh Ngean.
The boys under the charge of Poh Ngean are Chew Choon Kean, Kiang Ming Joe and Yap Qiu Nan. The girls are Poon Yee Hwa and Low Hong Xiu.
Poh Ngean, who has been a sanshou coach since 1973, said that it would be an uphill task for the sanshou exponents because they lacked competitive sparring experience.
“It will be tough all the way, especially when they come up against physically bigger and stronger boxers,” he said.
“We will be banking on the Wong brothers and Wai Loong. They were sent to China because they have the potential. We hope they can beat the odds and win medals.”