PETALING JAYA: All eyes will be on the country's top shooter Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi to gun down the first gold medal for Malaysia in the SEA Games at the Shooting Range of the Sports Authority of Thailand in Bangkok today.
The 25-year-old Suryani will be defending the title in the women's 50m rifle prone event.
Chef-de-mission Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad hoped that Suryani will be able to give the contingent a flying start in their bid to achieve good results in the 24th edition of the Games.
At the last Games in Manila in 2005, Malaysia bagged 61 gold medals.
The shooting competitions are held ahead of the official opening of the Games in Korat on Dec 6 to enable the shooters to take part in the Asian Championships scheduled for Dec 3-13.
Asian shooters will get their last chance to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in the championships in Kuwait.
Zainal said that Suryani had proved in the past to be a reliable shooter in delivering medals and in the South-East Asia (Seasa) championships in Subang, she bagged a total of four gold medals.
It would be a perfect start for the country if Suryani can live up to expectations. She can play a big part in motivating the whole contingent and I hope that she will pull it off, said Zainal yesterday.
A win will also put Suryani in good stead for the Asian championships where she will also compete in the team event together with Nur Ain Ibrahim and Haslisa Hamed.
Some of the athletes have left for the Games but the bulk of the contingent, who are currently in centralised camp (at Universiti Putra Malaysia) will leave on Sunday (Dec 2), added Zainal.
Besides the rifle event, two other gold medals will be at stake today from the men's 10m air pistol and women's 25m pistol events.
The National Shooting Association of Malaysia (NSAM) have set a five-gold medal target.
The Malaysian bets on winning gold medals are on Hasli Izwan Amir Hasan (rapid fire pistol); the skeet team led by Richard Cheong; and the trap team led by Bernard Yeoh.