OLYMPIC GOLD WITHIN REACH

Malaysia could win its first medal at the 2018 Win­ter Olympics as ice sports have raked up im­pres­sive re­sults this year. Time­s­port’s FARAH AZHARIE speaks to Ice Skat­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia vice pres­i­dent Tan Bee Leng on qual­i­fy­ing for the Win­ter Olymp

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Ques­tion: Ice sports have cer­tainly made a huge im­pres­sion on Malaysia, es­pe­cially with the re­sults achieved at the Asian Win­ter Games (AWG) in Fe­bru­ary. What are your thoughts?

An­swer: Yes, we have cre­ated his­tory with that won­der­ful per­for­mance.

They have peaked at the right time and we were able to ex­ploit the sit­u­a­tion well.

How­ever, we are still in the chas­ing pack and we have to catch up with the big three soon (China, South Korea and Ja­pan).

It was, how­ever, a morale booster and as our tar­get is the 2017 Sea Games, I be­lieve we should per­form well.

Q: There is lack of ex­po­sure for the sport and yet, it is mak­ing an im­pact. What is the Ice Skat­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia (ISAM) hop­ing to see in the near fu­ture?

A: We are very grate­ful to the par­ents of the ath­letes, our pres­i­dent (Fadzil Jo­han) and the com­mit­tee for their fer­vent ef­forts in mak­ing this sport what it is now. If we per­form and de­liver our prom­ise, I am sure the re­lau­thor­i­ties evant will look into our needs.

We are very happy and thank­ful to ISN (Na­tional Sports In­sti­tute), NSC (Na­tional Sports Coun­cil) and KBS (Sports Min­istry) for their strong sup­portf.

I am sure they will sup­port in a big­ger way in the near fu­ture.

Q: Ju­lian Yee has been dubbed the best fig­ure skater in South­east Asia. Can you can share with us your thoughts and how this came about? A: Ju­lian Yee is very pro­fes­sional and a very hard work­ing ath­lete.

He has been in the rink for 16 years and got as high as 42nd on the world rank­ings. We are sure he will live up to his billing.

Q: The na­tional speed skaters made his­tory at the AWG. What con­trib­uted to the suc­cess and what are their in­di­vid­ual strengths that helped them there?

A: The speed skaters made his­tory by mak­ing the fi­nals of the AWG. It’s ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to make it to the fi­nals as we have world pow­er­houses such as China, Korea and Ja­pan to con­tend with.

We had a very well-oiled team and they stuck to the game plan per­fectly through­out the semi­fi­nals and the fi­nal.

Each of them knew ex­actly what they were in for and this as­sisted a lot in mak­ing it to the fi­nal round.

One of the ath­letes, Ariff (Rasy­dan Mo­hamad Fadzil) com­peted de­spite an in­jury and surgery to the hand.

The other is team cap­tain Wong De-Vin, who forms an in­te­gral part of the team as he is the fastest skater in Malaysia.

Another is Hazim (Shahrum), who lives and trains in Aus­tralia, but be­fore the AWG, he made a big sac­ri­fice by tak­ing off from his stud­ies and com­ing back to Malaysia for two months to train with the team.

Khairil (Rid­hwan) is the other mem­ber who has set­tled well with the rest of the team de­spite his busy sched­ule with SPM ex­am­i­na­tions at the end of the year.

Vin­cent Chan has also made so many changes to his char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity to make a dif­fer­ence to the team.

Q: For the first time in Sea Games his­tory, ice sports will be fea­tured with speed skat­ing as the “high­light” sport in Kuala Lumpur. What are your thoughts?

A: For me it’s an hon­our and a very proud mo­ment to be high­lighted.

It will nat­u­rally put pres­sure on you but we all work well un­der pres­sure as it in­spires us to work harder, per­form and de­liver the best.

Q: What is the Sea Games tar­get for both speed skat­ing and fig­ures?

A: Our tar­get is three gold medals. Q: How would you de­scribe the ath­letes who have been cho­sen to rep­re­sent Malaysia at the Sea Games?

A: We have a small pool of ath­letes who are very pas­sion­ate and ded­i­cated in train­ing. Their love for the sport is one of the main rea­sons why we picked them and so far, they have de­liv­ered with pas­sion and great per­for­mance.

Q: If any­thing could be changed about the sup­port re­ceived for ice sports, what would you like it to be?

A: I would love to have our own ice rinks, one for fig­ure skat­ing and speed skat­ing with full spec­i­fi­ca­tions as well as to or­gan­ise com­pe­ti­tions where the ath­letes com­pete for prize money.

Their love for the sport is one of the main rea­sons why we picked them and so far, they have de­liv­ered with pas­sion and great per­for­mance.

Q: Aside from the Sea Games, most of the ath­letes are also try­ing to qual­ify for the 2018 Win­ter Olympics in

South Korea. How is that pro­gress­ing?

A: We are try­ing to qual­ify first for the Win­ter Olympics and we need to com­pete in a few more com­pe­ti­tions, af­ter which we might just do it.

Q: Do you think Malaysia could po­ten­tially see their first medal at the Win­ter Olympics soon and why? A: Ev­ery­one has an equal chance to win. Once we qual­ify, we will start work­ing on how to win the first gold medal and our tar­get is to win it in eight years.

The Malaysian ice skat­ing team who com­peted in the Asian Win­ter Games in Ja­pan in Fe­bru­ary.

Malaysian skaters in ac­tion at the Asian Win­ter Games in Ja­pan in Fe­bru­ary.

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