KUALA LUMPUR: The past greats and current top Malaysian athletes all shared in the joy of being part of the Malaysian leg of the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay here yesterday.
For some of the Beijing-bound athletes who took part as torchbearers, it was the perfect tonic before they compete in the biggest sporting event on earth in August.
Shuttler Lee Chong Wei, who carried the torch for the section near Istana Hotel, said: “I’m now motivated to train harder and prepare for a good outing in Beijing.”
Chong Wei is Malaysia’s best bet for a medal in the men’s singles.
“It reminds me of my goal in the Olympics. There is only slightly more than three months remaining before the Olympics and that was what flashed through my mind while I was holding the torch. I am inspired to train harder after this,” said Chong Wei.
And 18-year-old diver Bryan Nickson Lomas, who was the youngest of the Malaysian torchbearers, said he felt honoured to be taking part in an Olympic Torch Relay.
“Hopefully, it will boost me to put up a good performance for the country in the Olympics,” said Bryan, who became the first Malaysian athlete to qualify for the Olympics after reaching the men’s 10m platform final in the World Championships in Melbourne last year.
World number one woman squash player Nicol David, who also carried the torch along the section near Jalan Sultan Ismail, said it was as close as one could get to the Olympic Games.
“It’s really a good feeling to be an Olympic torchbearer, especially when I don’t get the chance to compete in the Olympics. I will not miss it for the world. I really hope squash will get into the Olympics one day,” said Nicol, who flew back from her training base in Amsterdam just for the occasion.
Like Nicol, top woman bowler Shalin Zulkifli was also excited to be among the 80 torchbearers.
“It is another way to be involved in the Olympics. Bowling is not in the Olympics and this is as close as I can get to feel what it’s like to be involved,” said Shalin.
Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar was the first person to carry the torch in the relay which kicked off at Dataran Merdeka at 2pm.
It ended with Sultan Azlan Shah, the Sultan of Perak, as the final torchbearer and he lighted up the cauldron at the Esplanade area in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC).
Malaysia last hosted a leg of the Olympic Torch Relay when Japan became the first Asian country to host the biggest sporting event in the world in 1964.
All five Malaysian Olympic medal winners – shuttlers Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock and the Sidek brothers – Razif, Jalani and Rashid – also took part in the relay.
Soon Kit-Kim Hock claimed the men’s doubles silver in the Atlanta Games in 1996. Razif-Jalani bagged a bronze when badminton made its debut in Barcelona in 1992 while Rashid was the singles bronze medallist in 1996.
OCM deputy president Datuk Dr M. Jegathesan hailed the event as a big success for Malaysia.
“Considering all the apprehensions following protests in most of the previous cities where the torch visited, I am glad to say that we managed to pull it off without any hitches. There were no major incidents. It’s just a pity that the rain fell in the later stages and drenched everyone. Otherwise it would have been a perfect show.”
The list of torchbearers
1. Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaafar, 2. Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah, 3. Mohd Kadri Mohamed Taib, 4. Wang Ji, 5. Datuk Tony Fernandes, 6. Datuk Abdul Hakim Borhan, 7. Datuk Mohd Yasin Salleh, 8. Karu Selvaratnam, 9. Datuk Ramlan Aziz, 10. Shaharuddin Jaafar, 11. Teng Mui Ngee, 12. Lim Keng Liat, 13. Soon Lay In, 14. Shi Fangfan, 15. Cheah Soon Kit, 16. Yuan Yufang, 17. Christopher Charles Moses, 18. Rashid Sidek, 19. Ng Ping Loong, 20. Abdul Ghafar Mahmud, 21. Datuk Zolkples Embong, 22. Francis Toh, 23. Shalin Zulkifli, 24. Datuk Dr Jemilah Mahmood, 25. Liew Kian Meng, 26. Bryan Nickson Lomas, 27. Yap Kim Hock, 28. Datuk Ho Koh Chye, 29. Datuk Soh Chin Aun, 30. Wilfred Vias, 31. Mohd Raduan Emeari, 32. Neo Chwee Yeen, 33. Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji, 34. Datuk Punch Gunalan, 35. Razif Sidek, 36. Muhd Salam Sidik, 37. Fu Chee Cheng, 38. Jalani Sidek, 39. Lim Yee Chung, 40. Seow Swee Pin, 41. Mohan Gurusamy, 42. Faridah Abdul Rahman, 43. Johnson Tan Soo Lim, 44. Ang Shiao Chin, 45. Nik Lazaridis, 46. Datuk Paduka Marina Mahathir, 47. Ras Adiba Radzi, 48. Min Yong Ho, 49. Nicol David, 50. Suh Dug Kun, 51. Datin Paduka Sharifah Mazlina, 52. Lee Chong Wei, 53. Fu Choong Sin, 54. Teh Muhd Amir, 55. Tan Sri Azman Hashim, 56. Balakrishnan Vishalache, 57. Jamali Johari, 58. Tan Ming Sen, 59. Thomas Kok, 60. Khairussaleh Ramli, 61. Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukhor, 62. Datuk Kamal Harun, 63. Datuk James Selvaraj, 64. Gerry Jaya Simhan, 65. Maya Heng, 66. Rohana Rozhan, 67. Teo Hong Beng, 68. Datuk Dr Hashim Abdul Wahab, 69. Dr Reza Azmi, 70. Khadijah Abdul Rahman, 71. Aznir Malek, 72. Karam Singh Walia, 73. Datuk Dr Mikaail Kavanah, 74. Marina Chin, 75. Nurul Huda Abdullah, 76. Datuk Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan, 77. Tan Sri Musa Hassan, 78. Hashim Wahir, 79. Cheng Yonghua. 80. Sultan Azlan Shah (Sultan of Perak).