Cyber hotshot

PETALING JAYA: National shooter Alia Sazana Azahari just knows how to keep herself highly motivated in a depressing situation – by beating Olympic champion and good friend Kim Jang-mi of South Korea.

In a one-to-one friendly online match recently, Alia defeated Jang-mi 37-36 in the 25m air pistol final round.

If it was an official tournament, Alia would have rewritten her own national record with the score of 37 as her previous mark is 33.

The 28-year-old Alia is grateful to her good friend Jang-mi for bringing out the best in her during the season affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Of course, the result is unofficial but it is a wonderful boost to my morale, ” said Alia.

“Both of us decided to compete online during our free time. I was at the range in Bukit Jalil while she was in Seoul. We were online throughout the match.

“It was fun and yet competitive. She certainly brought out the best in me. It was a close match.”

Alia has known the 2012 London Olympics gold medallist since 2015.

“I met her at the 2015 World Cup in Changwon. I had a mixed fortune in this event. I qualified for the final in a World Cup for the first time but I also missed out on the Olympics quota and a bronze medal by just two points.

“I may have lost a medal and the Olympics spot but I’m glad I made a lasting friendship with Jang-mi since then.

“She is a cool person and we have a lot of things in common. She is the same age with me and we enjoy traveling, playing games and love local cuisines too. But shooting is the main thing that has brought us together.

“We support and advise one another. Of course, I learned much from her, she being an Olympic champion.”

As Alia did not qualify for the Tokyo Games, the 2017 SEA Games champion’s focus now is to be at her best for next year’s Vietnam SEA Games.

“Currently, we are under a partial lockdown in Bukit Jalil. It’s hard to be contained in one place for a long time but we are dealing with it.

“We’re grateful that NSC (National Sports Council) are helping us to adapt and adjust, ” she said.

“We occasionally have talks with our sports psychologists to handle the stress. NSC have also lined up many activities for us to relax at the training centre, which is really good.

“When the season resumes, hopefully, next year, we will be in good shape, both physically and mentally.”

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