PETALING JAYA: Bodybuilder Sazali Samad received a timely boost to his hopes of winning a second SEA Games gold medal after 10 years when he was given the honour of leading the Malaysian contingent to Myanmar next month.
The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) made the decision to pick Sazali, who claimed a historic ninth title at the world meet in Hungary last week, at their council meeting on Saturday.
The Malaysian Body Building Federation (MBBF) were the only national body to step forward to propose a candidate for the flag bearer’s role.
This will be Sazali’s second time as the flag bearer. His first was for the Asian Beach Games in Muscat, Oman, in 2010 where he returned with a gold.
“I did not expect this. It’s a big honour for me and for bodybuilding as it is not a mainstream sport,” said a delighted Sazali.
“It’s really a good thing to be the contingent leader for the SEA Games as I do not know whether I can get to represent the country in the future.
“It is not every time that bodybuilding is included in the SEA Games.
“Being in this position at the SEA Games will make me more determined to do my best, although it won’t be easy as only five gold medals will be given out,” added the 45-year-old, who has won the Asian title eight times.
Bodybuilding will be making its return after the previous hosts – Laos and Indonesia – dropped it from their Games.
The bodybuilding competition will be held in Yangon and Sazali will be seeking his second SEA Games title, having first won it in Hanoi in 2003.
He failed to defend his title in Manila two years later when he finished second.
Sazali is also the last Malaysian gold medallist at the biennial meet. He went to Korat in 2007 – but only as a trainer.