THE Sukma (Malaysia Games) have always been the hotbed for supplying sporting talents for Malaysia. Shuttler Lee Chong Wei, track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang and diver Pandelela Rinong all starred in the previous editions of Sukma before becoming the nation’s sporting icons. StarSport’s LIM TEIK HUAT profiles six athletes who could make their states proud over the next 11 days.
Gillian Lim (bowling)
SARAWAKIAN Nerosha Keligit made history by becoming the first bowler to sweep six gold medals when her state hosted the last Sukma in Kuching two years ago.
Nerosha is no longer eligible and the attention now turns to Gillian Lim.
The 19-year-old did well to clinch the girls’ singles title at the Asian Schools Bowling Championships in Kuching last year and Sarawak will be banking on her to conquer the lanes when the competition starts at the Ampang Super Bowl in Ipoh on Friday.
Born in Miri, Gillian also helped Malaysia win all five golds in the girls’ competition at the Asian Schools meet and she was also part of the team who clinched the bronze in the World Youth Bowling Championships in the United States last month.
Tan Cheong Min (wushu)
THE pint-sized Cheong Min, who only stands at 1.5m, almost stole the thunder from her seniors in the Malaysian wushu team at the recent Asian Games in Indonesia.
Cheong Min, who is from Melaka, could have clinched a medal had she landed properly in the nandao routine.
Cheong Min was reduced to tears because of the mistake as it ruined her plans for a perfect 20th birthday celebration in Jakarta.
However, the world is the playground for the young girl as she is already a silver medallist at the World University Championships in Taiwan last year.
Cheong Min should be going for a sweep of all three events in nanquan discipline (nanquan, nandao and nangun).
Mohd Fadhil Zonis (track cycling)
FADHIL is looking at his last Sukma appearance and the time is right for the 20-year-old to end it on a golden note.
Fadhil will ride for Selangor and will be hoping to strike gold in either the sprint or keirin events in the track cycling competition at the Velodrome Rakyat in Ipoh.
Fadhil, a former 1km time trial Asian junior champion, was part of the team sprint trio who bettered the 10-year national record to take silver in the Asian Games in Indonesia last month.
He was promoted to the Podium Programme after clinching gold in the team sprint and the 1km time trial at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games last year.
Fadhil, one of a handful of cyclists who has the potential to go far in the national set-up, is based in Melbourne with the elite squad handled by Australian John Beasley.
Sebastian Soon (swimming)
ONLY 16, Sebastian is on course for a smashing debut at the Sukma in Perak following an impressive outing in the Asean Schools Games in Kuala Lumpur in July.
Sebastian clocked 4:30.85 in the boys 400m individual medley to break Lim Ching Hwang’s national record of 4:31.01 set at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games last year.
Sebastian went on to claim the 200m individual medley and 1,500m freestyle titles at the Asean Schools meet.
Federal Territories can be looking at possibly one or two gold medals from Sebastian if he repeats his form in Ipoh.
The individual medley discipline is the hardest to focus on as swimmers need to be good in all four strokes and credit goes to Sebastian for putting in hard work in the pool.
Nur Izazi Rosli (shooting)
THE 18-year-old has high hopes of following in the footsteps of her idol Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi.
Nur Suryani made her mark with a national record in the 2004 Sukma in Negri Sembilan and has since gone on to represent the country at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Nur Izazi showed she is on the right track by getting selected for the Asian Games in Indonesia last month at the expense of her idol.
The Kuala Lumpur-born shooter marked her Asiad debut by shooting a personal best of 622.3 points in the qualifying to finish in 10th place.
Her previous best was 621.6 points which she did in a local competition last year.
Nur Izazi, who forked out her own money to compete in the Asiad, is hoping to be third time lucky in Sukma after coming close in two previous editions.
Grace Wong (athletics)
SARAWAKIAN Grace is the undisputed No. 1 women hammer athlete in South-East Asia. The 18-year-old holds the SEA Games record of 59.24m, which she did in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games last year to win the gold.
She also broke the national record with a hurl of 60.99m, which she did at the Mokpo International Open in South Korea last year.
She will start as the overwhelming favourite to retain and also shatter her own Sukma record for the third consecutive time.
Grace was only 14 when she broke the Sukma record with a hurl of 55.82m in Perlis in 2014 and she set a new record with an effort of 57.76m two years later in Sarawak.