SUBANG: The country’s top pistol shooter Hasli Izwan Amir Hasan will be out to score a first in the SEA Games to get a timely boost in his aspiration to become an Olympian.
The 30-year-old Hasli will be competing in his fourth SEA Games at Bangkok and he will be out to sweep a double by winning the 25m rapid fire individual and team events for the first time when the competition begins on Nov 27.
The double victory will put him in a good stead ahead of the Asian Championships, which will be held in Kuwait a week after the SEA Games.
The Asian meet is the last platform for shooters to qualify for next year’s Beijing Olympic Games. And Hasli has a great potential to become the first men pistol shooter to feature at the Olympics.
After battling for honours all by himself in the last three SEA Games. Hasli was happy that a solid team for the rapid fire event had been groomed.
The two others in the team are 20-year-old Hafiz Adzha and 19-year-old Mohd Ridhuan Mohamed, who were roped in early this year.
“It can be quite boring to compete all alone. Now, I have team-mates and we can support and encourage each other. It will be an extra motivation to bring my game to another level. This is also a good way to groom the future pistol shooters for the country,” said Hasli.
“I am tuning myself very well to produce my best at the SEA Games. I want to defend my individual gold but it will be perfect if I can lead the team to victory too,” he said.
The chubby Hasli has an impressive record in the Games. Except for the 2003 Vietnam Games, he is the individual gold medal winner at the Games in Kuala Lumpur (2001) and Manila (2005).
“But ultimately, my goal is to peak at the Asian meet. I want to be the first Malaysian to feature in the pistol event at the Beijing Games,” added Hasli, who holds a personal best of 579 in the rapid fire event.
If Hasli can live up to expectation, the National Shooting Association of Malaysia (NSAM) will be on the right track to achieve their five-gold-medal target.
Said team manager Mark Ong Eng Khiong: “We expect five golds and it can come from the rifle, pistol or the short gun events. We have good individual shooters and that means we have higher chances of firing down the team medals too.”
“Shooting is the first sport that offer gold medals and we hope to get Malaysia off to a good start in the Games.”
Malaysia’s hunting ground will also be at the women’s rifle events and Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi, who is also Malaysia’s best bet to feature in the Beijing Games, is expected to be the star of the competition in Bangkok.
She showed that she was on the right frame of mind to shine at the SEA Games and the Asian meet when she coolly picked up a whopping four gold medals at the South-East Asian Championships (Seasa) in August.
With good performances at the recent Seasa, Malaysia also can count on medals from their skeet and trap teams.