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First acid test for Podium athletes


Calm before the storm: Podium Programme director Tim Newenham (right) speaking at a press conference yesterday. Together with him are chef-de-mission Huang Ying How (left) and National Sports Council athletes department acting director Jefri Ngadirin.

Calm before the storm: Podium Programme director Tim Newenham (right) speaking at a press conference yesterday. Together with him are chef-de-mission Huang Ying How (left) and National Sports Council athletes department acting director Jefri Ngadirin.

AFTER two years of hype, the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will be the first real test for Podium Programme athletes.

Hopes are on two weightlifters – Mohd Azroy Hazalwafie Izhar Ahmad and Mohd Aznil Bidin – to give Malaysia a dream start and show that the multi-million Podium Programme, which uses science to give extra edge to athletes, has done its wonders.

Azroy, who turns 24 today, is the favourite in the men’s below 56kg while Aznil is competing in the below 62kg.

Both of them are medal prospects in their respective events starting tomorrow at the Carrara Sports Arena.

Weightlifting has never failed to deliver a gold medal since the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games.

Podium director Tim Newenham is hopeful for the two to set Malaysia on their way to meeting their top-10 target.

“If anything is for sure, they should give it their 100%,” said Newenham.

“Our programme is two-years-old now and the key performance index (KPI) is for us to finish in the top 10.

“At this point it is really up to every athlete to maximise their opportunities as they have all been put in good hands and now it’s time to step up and do the best they can.

“We’re not trying to put extra pressure but we feel that if every athlete can do a personal best then it puts us in a good position to take Malaysia forward.”

“I am optimistic because we are well prepared and fingers crossed, we can surely get off to a good start,” he said.

To meet the top-10 target, Malaysia need to do better than the 6-7-6 haul at the 2014 Glasgow Games.

Then, Malaysia only managed golds through four sports – badminton (three), squash, diving and weightlifting (one each).

Besides weightlifting, the other gold medal prospects for Malaysia in Gold Coast are badminton, squash, diving, cycling and lawn bowls.

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