PETALING JAYA: At 43, national golfer Danny Chia is the oldest athlete in the 32-member Malaysian contingent to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
But don’t let that fool you.
The national No. 1 has come a long way and, based on his current form, there’s still a lot of good years ahead of him.
The way he successfully came back from a major shoulder injury, which he suffered in 2013 and which could have ended his career, has been nothing short of inspiring.
Danny is, in fact, enjoying arguably his most impressive run since turning professional in 1996.
In the past two and half years, he boasts a fine record of four titles, three runner-up finishes and 11 top-10 placings on the international stage.
The highlight has to be winning the Taiwan Masters in October last year to end a 13-year Asian Tour title drought.
That win made him the first Malaysian to hold multiple victories on the region’s premier Tour.
A couple more decent results saw Danny finishing a career-best eighth on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
That position earned him several “firsts”, including a maiden World Golf Championships (WGC) appearance at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai last November as well as a place in the 12-man Asian side for the EurAsia Cup team competition in Malaysia early this year.
Now, he is ready to add another highlight to his already-impressive CV when he tees off at the newly-created Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro from Aug 11-14.
“I feel like I’m still dreaming,” said Danny, whose last multi-sport Games appearance was at the Chiangmai SEA Games in 1995.
“It’s been a long journey ... the last two years. From being not sure if I would ever play golf again to going to the Olympics ... it’s just unbelievable.
“I can’t wait to tee off in Rio. It’s going to be a very proud moment for me to represent Malaysia.
“This experience will definitely be different compared to the SEA Games, the World Cup and the Malaysian Open,” added Danny, who is also the first Malaysian to play in all four rounds in the British Open – in 2010 – at St Andrews.
Danny knows it won’t be easy to win a medal in Rio.
“But you never know ... if I can keep pace with the leaders in the early stages, I definitely have a chance,” said Danny.
“The key is to enjoy myself out there on the course ... I play my best golf when I’m feeling at ease.
“I won’t be surprised if I can come back with a medal.”
Danny will be joined by promising youngster Gavin Kyle Green in the 60-man field while Kelly Tan and Michelle Koh will carry Malaysia’s challenge in the women’s competition.