KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will have their biggest-ever shooting team for the Asian Games.
Yesterday, the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) approved the participation of 14 shooters in the Doha Asiad in December. They will compete as Category A athletes in the rifle, pistol, skeet and trap events.
At the 2002 Busan Asiad, Malaysia were represented by four shooters.
The National Shooting Association of Malaysia (NSAM) will select five shooters from the seven approved to compete in the women's rifle events. They are Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi, Nurul Hudda Baharin, Nordalilah Abu Bakar, Mariani Rafali, Cynthia Karen Leong, Nasreena Nazaruddin and Muslifah Zulkifli.
Bibiana Ng, Joseline Cheah and Siti Nur Masitah will compete in the women's air and sport pistol events while Manila SEA Games gold medallist Hasli Izwan Amir Hasan will bid for a medal in the men's pistol competitions (rapid fire and centre fire).
Ricky Teh, who is training on his own, will be the sole Malaysian representative for the individual skeet event.
The men's trap shooters, who are also self-trained, also got the nod. And three of the four shooters –Bernard Yeoh, Ng Beng Chong, Leong Wai Heng and Charles Chen – will get to go to Doha.
The trap team secured a place in the Asiad after beating the qualifying mark of 331 at the Tun Hanif Cup at the Subang Shooting Range last Saturday.
In the competition, Bernard, Beng Chong and Wai Heng shot a combined score of 340 to equal the silver medal mark of the Busan Asiad.
On the women's rifle shooters, NSAM secretary Jasni Shaari said that they would go on a one-month training stint in Russia.
“Of the seven, I can say that only Nur Suryani is assured of a place in the team,” said Jasni.
“She did very well in the World Championships in Croatia, finishing 14th in the 50m rifle event out of a field of more than 100 shooters. She is currently ranked fourth in Asia.”
Malaysia have not won a medal in shooting for 20 years but Jasni said that they had not set any medal target for the team to Doha.
“Our shooters have improved a lot compared to the last Asiad. It will be an achievement if some of them can qualify for the final,” he said.
Shooting offers the biggest number of gold medals at 44 in the Doha Asiad and China are expected to grab the lion's share.