Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who would be our first sports millionaire/s?

The Beijing Olympics is just around the corner and the whole country must be wondering if the gold medal is finally within the contingent's grasp.

Since the Government has decided to reward the nation's Olympic gold medallists with RM1 million apiece (I thought RM500,000 was more appropriate), let's take a look at our best prospects.

The year 2008 has been forgettable so far for Kedah lad Tan Boon Heong and Ipoh mali Koo Kien Keat. The latter (right) injured his right hand in a freak accident early this month and is desperate to regain his self-belief, energy and focus ahead of Beijing. Unfortunately for us, the duo are nowehere the form that propelled them to the Doha Asian Games gold medal, the Malaysian Open, the All-England and the Swiss Open in a space of a few weeks early last year.

Some believe Lee Chong Wei stands a brighter chance of finishing on the podium than the doubles pair and this is true based on current form. Dubbed the Plastic Man by Harian Metro's Manan Samad, the world No 2 from Bukit Mertajam can beat anybody on his day.

pic courtesy (from left) Josiah Ng, Shane Kelly and Florian Rousseau

I had the good fortune of covering the Athens Games four years ago. While taking a break from listening to Lazarus Rokk's rantings and ravings in the media centre at the velodrome, I saw one gentleman hanging around the corridor. It was the Sydney Games gold medallist Florian Rousseau. I spoke to him about Josiah Ng for a good five minutes. Following is the piece...
A PLACE in the keirin final beckons for Josiah Ng on Wednesday.
This personal endorsement came from French legendary cyclist Florian Rousseau, the keirin Olympic champ in Sydney 2000 who is here as a commentator with European sports channel Eurosport.
Rousseau, who has one of the most impressive palmares (honours) in the world of cycling, three Olympic gold medals - one silver and seven world titles in his array of titles - said Josiah stands a great chance of mounting the podium.
"I have raced against him many times. He is a good rider in keirin. He did well in the sprints tonight (last night) but his speciality is always the keirin.
"I believe he will advance to the final. Then it is anybody's guess because there is little to separate the six riders in the final," said Rousseau, 30, who bid adieu after a dismal performance in the World Championship in Melbourne.
Two-time keirin world champion Jens Fiedler from Germany believes Josiah will be the pride of Malaysia soon.
"He is young while the rest of the keirin riders, like me for example, are nearing the end of our careers.
"He will be determined to do well here because it is his first Games. It is good to see up-and-coming riders like him establishing themselves in the world circuit," said Fiedler, who was the No 1 in the World Cup last year.
Josiah failed in his bid to enter the top eight in the men's sprint but credit to him for giving the likes of Australia's Commonwealth Games gold medallists Ryan Bayley and Sean Eadie a great fight last night.
The Swiss-based Manila-born keirin specialist took the track on five occasions but had to contend with the 9-12 classification tomorrow.

I hope Jo is close to his peak. It has been a while since I last spoke to Jo, so I was pleasantly surprised upon discovering a commenter who signed off as in an earlier posting in this blog is his significant other. Check out If Jo wins the gold, they can tie the knot and book a honeymoon at one of the far-flung and exotic Greek islands.


jim morrison 'wanabe' said...

will there be any to begin with? hope i'll be proven wrong.

Enche Bon said...

Bro Rizal,

The cycling team do have some interesting individuals who could make Malaysia's day. The inclusion of Azizulhasni together with Josiah in the keirin would increase our chances especially if both of them could qualify for the finals. Who could forget Josiah being 'sandwiched' by the Aussies in the 2004 Olympics?

Together with Rizal Tisin, hopefully we can spearhead a cycling revolution :) hehehe, harga minyak naik ni, kena naik basikal la nampaknya...


Anonymous said...

Digressing from your article, MyTeam has bagged 6 points from 2 matches. A turn of fortunes or luck of the bounce mon ami?


rizal hashim said...

enche bon,

I'm sure with the help of bio-mechanists like you can help fine-tune their preparation.

Azizulhasni is a fine specimen but I was surprised that he was forced to compete at Sukma.

Yes I agree we have quite a few interesting individuals, though i was disappointed with rizal's performance in Doha. Credit to the NSC for designing a programme for track which offers more medals compared to road.

rizal hashim said...

Bonjour Dax,

Yes, Sasa has been performing well, I suppose.

I know I predicted MyTeam to finish among the bottom two in the Super League.

Well I don't mind eating humble pie. It's part of the game. Then again it's still early days in the Malaysia Cup.

My warm regards to Bojan. He helped me communicate with Drazen Ladic during the Intercontinental Cup.

NoktahHitam said...


What about the second string double for badminton (the Malay duo). They looked promising. I really hope they could win the RM1m prize money.

Scrap that, I meant ANYONE, please win the prize money. I want to see Malaysian getting gold in Olympic!

rizal hashim said...

Noktah hitam,

Fairuzizuan Tazari and Zakry Latif won back-to-back titles, lifting the Singapore Open and the Indonesian Open in a matter of days but they missed the boat to Beijing. They may well overtake Koo-Tan sooner than later.

I did not mention the trio of archers - Marbawi Sulaiman, Cheng Chu Sian and Wan Khalmizan Aziz. They stand a great chance of bagging at least a bronze in Beijing.

My question is can NSC afford to pay RM1 million to the athletes when they are still owing contractors and NSAs?

Anonymous said...

Dear Rizal,

On his day, please do not discount Josiah Ng Onn Lam in the Keirin, On his day, please do not discount Azizulhasni also in the sprint and keirin. And on their day, Jsiah, Azizul and Rizal together can make a malaysian miracle-the elusive millionaire athlete.

Pedal Power

NoktahHitam said...

Ouch. That is tough.

I reckon the funding will come from PMO if KBS fails to pay. Perhaps a condo? Im sure the ministers can tickle their wing man ;)

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