Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Langkawi MTB Jamboree on Oct 14

Dear Cyclists, The Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge (LIMBC) holds its annual MTB Jamboree in Kuah, Langkawi on Sunday 14th October 2012.

For just RM60, you and your friends can enjoy a great 40km of-road course, get a cool LIMBC T-Shirt and receive our much sought after LIMBC finisher’s medal!

Don’t forget you’ve also the chance to win some really super prizes in our Special Lucky Draw, including Samsung Galaxy Notes, Shimano XTR Groupsets, FOX Suspension sets and much more - all available for the fortunate winners!

I attach an e-flyer for you to circulate to your clubs members and friends… Spread the word and come join the fun! Any questions, you can drop me an email or call me on 019 570 2604. I’ll be happy to hear from you! Send your entries and put the LIMBC Jamboree in your calendar now, you won’t want to miss it!

PS You might want to try your MTB skills in the main LIMBC 2012 event 15-20 October 2012 - I’ve a few places available at a super special discounted rate with free accommodation if you or anyone else want to take part in Asia’s Biggest MTB Event! It’s open to anyone above the age of 19 – male or female. Call/email me for details!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Syabas YB Ahmad Shabery

Tahniah dan syabas harus kuhulurkan kepada tiga individu - seorang menteri, seorang ketua pengarah dan seorang lagi yang baru diberi tugas berat menerajui sebuah organisasi.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek baru-baru ini memohon maaf kepada rakyat Malaysia atas kegagalan kontinjen negara menepati sasaran mengutip pingat emas di temasya Olimpik di London. Baca Shabery minta maaf dan ada laporannya di laman web MSN selain laporan the Malay Mail Sorry for not winning gold, says Shabery dan Minister takes the rap.

Gambar NST. Shabery (kanan) dengan Pandelela Rinong Pamg

Nadi Arena menayangkan semula temu bual program Dengan Izin dengan Shabery yang disiarkan pada Februari lalu, memetik kata-kata beliau akan mengambil tanggungjawab atas kegagalan kontinjen negara di London. Memohon maaf bukanlah perkara yang mudah, apatah lagi datangnya daripada seorang Menteri. Sebenarnya Shabery cuba menyampaikan satu mesej kepada keluarga sukan, tidak kira sama ada mereka dari MSN, MOM atau persatuan sukan, agar bertanggungjawab atas sebarang keputusan di London.

Yang menariknya, mesej ini secara sengaja atau tidak sengaja tidak dilayan oleh mana-mana pihak. Ketua Pengarah MSN, Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong, misalnya, mempertahankan program Road to London (RTL) tidak gagal. Baca Olympic mission still a success. Timbalan Presiden Persekutuan Berbasikal Kebangsaan Malaysia (PKBM), Datuk Naim Mohamad, menjadi pelakon dan pengarah drama ciptaannya sendiri, mula-mula meramalkan tiga pingat, selepas itu konon meletak jawatan di London tetapi rupa-rupanya tidak.

Permohonan maaf Shabery pula disusuli tindakan pantas. Ini termasuk tindakan melantik Ahmad Shapawi Ismail sebagai Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Institut Sukan Negara (ISN).

Barangkali tindakan itu mengejutkan sesetengah pihak. Mungkin Shabery mengambil kira pandangan bos lama Zolkples, Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad dalam kolumnya yang cukup berpengaruh Pendapat Saya dalam Utusan Malaysia. Baca cadangan Mazlan untuk ISN. Cuba baca perenggan yang menyebut Mazlan mengenali sebilangan besar pegawai di MSN...ini tentu termasuk Zolkples dan Datuk Jalil Abdullah! Sudah tentu Mazlan tahu siapa boleh buat kerja, siapa yang kreatif, siapa yang buat kerja cincai, siapa yang tahu anjur anugerah saja, siapa yang pandai main golf, siapa yang naik pesawat kelas bisnes walaupun hanya layak kelas ekonomi...

Pingat gangsa Pandelela di London juga tandanya MSN meneruskan satu program yang dicetus oleh MSN dulu. Baca laporan the Star di sini yang menceritakan latar belakang sukan terjun di bawah Jaya'98. Orang kuat program itu selain Mazlan ialah Azemi Awang Chik (pada awalnya) sebelum diganti Azizan Zainol Abidin selaku pengarah. Program itu turut membabitkan bahagian pembangunan MSN yang diketuai ketika itu Zaki Abdul Rahman.

Azizan Zainol Abidin, yang selalu aku kacau dari 1995 hingga 1998...

Zaki Abdul Rahman, bos dari zaman Zol Embong di bahagian pembangunan

Tahniah juga diucapkan kepada Zolkples kerana setelah lama berpuasa di London sepanjang temasya Olimpik, beliau beraya lagi di London sebagai Ketua Kontinjen paralimpik negara...hahaha, tiada pegawai lain di Malaysia lagi agaknya! Syabas oh Malaysiaku!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A period of mourning

Syawal 1433 Hijrah arrived days after a period of mourning for me personally. I lost three friends in the holy month of Ramadan, when their souls returned to their Creator at death.

The demise of Datuk Husin Anwar on August 11 at 3.44 am came as a shock. I got the news from RTM's Hafizal Hamad around 5.30am. He was apparently suffering from cancer.

It was not a norm for a general secretary of FAM to have a Datuk as his PA, a question I duly posed to Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad, but cigar-smoking Husin was always affable and welcoming. He was once proposed to be nominated to challenge for the Malaysian Fencing Federation's presidency.

Allahyarham Husin (right) with the Prime Minister.

Allahyarham Husin with Indian superstar Rajinikanth

A few days later, my old colleague at the Malay Mail, Harny Abu Khair, sent me a private message on FB, breaking the news that former New Straits Times sportswriter Juli Suharni Jaafar had passed away. Read
here. As described by the paper, Juli was certainly an editor par excellence, with an intimate knowledge of the F1 industry and a true Madridista. It was common for her to come over to the Malay Mail sports desk and discuss La Liga with us when the rest of the world were transfixed on the English game.

Juli on the left, with Lim Teong Kim in Germany.

Read her piece on Alex Yoong here. Each time she went to Madrid, Juli would bring back for me mementoes, including the 2002 UEFA Champions League final souvenir programme which I treasure most. In 2010, Juli invited me to write for Brunei Times as a columnist, a privilege which I could not turn down. Read here. Years earlier when Intan was hospitalised following a major surgery, Juli and Harny were among those who paid us a visit at HUKM, a gesture that remains embedded on my mind. A generous and gentle character, Juli will be sorely missed. Her remains were laid to rest in Yan.

On Aug 15, we bade farewell to Datuk Punch Gunalan.

Al-Fatihah and Rest in Peace, my dear friends.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The passing of a legend

Shortly after Subuh, I got a message that Datuk Punch Gunalan had passed on.

A badminton legend trained in mechanical engineering, Punch ended up doing a lot of other things -  marketing and public relations on top of sharing his technical expertise in a sport that went on to guarantee him legendary status. He rose to the deputy president's seat at the world federation BWF, but not before becoming the strategic thinker and implementer and one of the architects behind Malaysia's Thomas Cup victory in 1992. His communications skills, mechanical solutions to problems and marketing knowledge were tools of his trade. Officials of his ilk, sadly, are a dying breed. With profound sadness, we bid farewell to Punch.

When Avittele asked me to write the script for a program on Astro SuperSports, of course I could not say no to the opportunity of meeting old friends. This picture was taken at Punch's residence in Petaling Jaya in July 2010, which I treasure most because Punch shared with producer Aida Halim and I a lot of inside stories behind the Thomas Cup success. We exchanged banters, spoke about the good old times when everyone was open to criticism and recalled the moments when he agreed for P Ganga Rao to approach and offer me the job as a media officer at BWF. I was advised not a friend. I picked this spot to capture the most recent Punch with Punch in his heyday as the backdrop.

This interview was published in the Malay Mail on October 19, 2005 under the column Icons.

A MAN acknowledged in his time as one of the world's finest players in both singles and doubles, DATUK PUNCH GUNALAN is ideally placed to turn badminton into a global sport.

As Mailsport's RIZAL HASHIM discovers, Gunalan's background in mechanical engineering, marketing and the technical aspects of the game provides him the know-how to solve problems with mechanical precision, aplomb and foresight.

Mailsport: Tell us about your early days, Datuk.

Punch Gunalan: I held a badminton racquet for the first time when I was five. At that time, my father had exposed me to various age-group tournaments. Although I was also adept in track and field, my father seemed convinced that my destiny lay in badminton. I once held the King George V (KGV) school record in pole vault and high jump but due to my father's influence, badminton became my reason for being. But he did not live long enough to see the fruits of his labour.

MS: What happened?
PG: For most, Merdeka Day on Aug 31, 1957, was a day of celebration. But for my family, it was a day of mourning. On the eve of Merdeka, my father was involved in a misunderstanding at a police road-block and he was accidentally hit on the head. He suffered a concussion and a day later, we were told that he had passed away.

MS: Losing a father at such a young age must surely be a big blow for you.
PG: It was tough for everybody in the family. Realising that we had lost the family's sole breadwinner, I became more focused and more responsible. We survived mainly through the help of relatives and friends. KGV offered me a scholarship and later, I earned a scholarship to pursue my studies in the United Kingdom. From the sporting perspective, I had learnt enough under him never to compromise on the courts.

MS: Did you encourage your son to play the game?
PG: I did and he went on to represent his school. But my wife and I decided since we were blessed with only one child, it was best that he worked for a degree rather than a badminton medal. If by God's grace we were blessed with another child, I would have loved the chance of turning him or her into a world-beater. Still, we are happy with what we have. Roshan is intent on becoming an orthopaedic surgeon.

MS: What are the highlights of your playing career?
PG: Winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal in Christchurch in 1974 was a source of enormous satisfaction for me. It was akin to completing the Grand Slam because before that, I had bagged the SEAP Games gold in singles and doubles and the Asian Games singles and doubles titles as well. I had won the doubles title in Edinburgh alongside Ng Boon Bee in 1970 but had to wait four years later for the singles gold.

MS: As a coach?
PG: Winning the Thomas Cup in 1992 after a 25-year lapse. It was the culmination of hard work which began almost 10 years earlier.

MS: As an administrator?
PG: When I was chosen to receive the Commonwealth Games baton from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in 1998. It was a great honour for me and certainly, a feather in the cap.

MS: What does being the second-in-command in IBF entail, Datuk?
PG: Basically, I am in charge of charting the future of the game. My task is to make the game more attractive, fashionable and more appealing to the audience. We are in the midst of collating feedback with regard to a new scoring system in our bid to make the game more spectator-friendly as well as to increase television coverage. The current scoring system of 15 points best-of-three games drags too long and IBF are testing the new point-per-rally system, which uses a 21-point best-of-three format. Badminton needs to become player-, spectator-, television- and sponsors-friendly in order to become a more exciting and popular racquet sport. IBF, as you know, have shifted their HQ to Kuala Lumpur and from here, I am in charge of overseeing the five IBF training centres, of which three are already operational in Saarbruecken (Germany), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Guangzhou (China). Ideally, we want to expose the trainees at the centres to the European individualistic mentality, Korean discipline, Chinese training methods, Malaysian tactics and Indonesian footwork.

MS: You received a lot of flak for telling women's shuttlers to get skimpy.
PG: It is one way of telling the players to set the trend and become fashionable. We want major badminton finals to be a social event like the Wimbledon or the Super Bowl. Badminton has the potential to become a global sport. An European gentleman told me recently that badminton is faster than a Ferrari. And it is true. The company we commissioned to measure the speed of the game discovered Taufik Hidayat's smashes clocked up to 320kph at the recent World Championship in Anaheim. And the shuttlers do it many times in a game. Tennis star Andy Roddick's serve at 249kph therefore pales in comparison. Badminton is the fastest racquet sport, there's no doubt about that.

MS: Do you think Malaysians will be up to the challenge in the immediate and foreseeable future?
PG: Certainly. But in order to enjoy success, we have to break away from the culture of compromise. Nicol David, who just won the British Open, is a prime example. For us to set a certain standard, we must not compromise.

Current Position: Deputy president, International Badminton Federation (IBF), President, Kuala Lumpur Badminton Association (KLBA).
Place of Birth: Seremban, Negri Sembilan.
Date of Birth: April 2, 1944.
Family: Eldest of four siblings.
Marital Status: Wife Datin Vijeya Kumari and son Dr Roshan.
Educational Background:
King George V School 1957-1963; Brighton College of Technology 1964-67, graduated with honours in Mechanical engineering.
Career Profile: 1961-1963 - Negri Sembilan Senior Champion in Junior Singles and Doubles and Mixed Doubles. KGV school captain. 1962 - Junior Doubles champion in Asian Championships, Kuala Lumpur. 1968 - Won the East India Open Singles Championships. 1968-1973 - Mechanical Engineer with National Electricity Board. 1969 - Won the Malaysian Open, Irish Open and SEAP Games Singles, National Sportsman of the Year. 1970 - Won the Asian Games singles and doubles titles, Commonwealth Games doubles gold, Thomas Cup runner-up (lost to Indonesia 7-2). 1971 - Won the Malaysian Open, Belgian Open and Hong Kong Open, the SEAP Games, United States Open, Belgium Open, and All-England doubles. 1972 - Won the Belgian Open, Danish Open and German Open, doubles silver medallist in demonstration sport at Munich Olympics. 1972-1975 - Sales Executive, Dunlop Malaysian Industries Berhad. 1973 - Won the SEAP Games singles title. 1974 - Won the Singles in the Commonwealth Games, runner-up in the All-England singles, National Sportsman of the Year. 1975-1977 - Sales Manager (Sports), DMIB Berhad. 1976 - Thomas Cup Malaysian coach (runner-up). 1977-1979 - Manager, Head of Sports Division of DMIB Berhad. 1979 - Manager, Sports Equipment and Marketing, Sime Darby Berhad. 1980's - Public Relations Manager, Emtex Corp Berhad. 1988 - Thomas Cup Malaysian coach (runner-up). 1990 - Thomas Cup Malaysian coach (runner-up). 1991 - Secretary, Asian Badminton Confederation (ABC). 1992 - Thomas Cup Team Manager-cum-Chief Coach (Champion). 1996 - Vice President, IBF. 1997 - Chairman, BAM Development Committee. 1998 - Selected to receive the Commonwealth Games baton from Queen Elizabeth on March 9. 1999 - Vice-President, IBF, Chairman of Marketing Committee and exco member of IBF, re-elected as secretary of ABC. 2000 - Vice-President of IBF, Chairman of Marketing Committee and exco member of IBF. 2001 - Re-elected as vice-president of IBF, IBF Executive Board member and Chairman of Marketing Committee for another three-year term (2001-2004). 2003 - Re-elected as secretary of ABC for another two-year term (2003-2005). 2004 - Re-elected as Vice-President of IBF, and appointed by IBF Council as Deputy Chairman of Council. 2005 - Deputy president of IBF and appointed by IBF Council as Chairman of Marketing Committee, Continental Confederation Committee and Training Centres and Development Committee.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Where do we stand, post-London 2012

The Malaysian contingent returned with a 0-1-1 medal haul in therecently concluded London Olympic Games. So was it a success or can the London sojourn be considered a failure?

How do we measure success? Is a silver medal from someone who had performed a similar feat four years earlier be deemed a success or do we celebrate the fact that we now have a discipline other than badminton that we can count on for medals in the future?

The Road to London progam, initiated by the National Sports Council (NSC), had earlier targeted the gold, which remains elusive and could prove to be elusive yet again in the next Olympics in Rio based on the statistics below.

In short, there are sports that should continue to be treated as Olympic sports, given all the necessary financial and moral support while others are only good for the Asian Games or Commonwealth Games standard. Malaysia were, for the record, represented by 30 athletes from eight sports - aquatics (diving/swimming), archery, athletics, badminton, cycling, fencing, sailing and shooting.

So where do we stand in terms of age, all-time best performance, ranking in Asia and medal prospects for Rio 2016?

Badminton (Wembley Arena)

Lee Chong Wei (Men's Singles)
Age: 29 years, 10 months 
Final position: Runners-up, silver medal
Best Asian: Lin Dan (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 2nd
Previous best: Silver medal 2008
All-time best Malaysian performer: Lee Chong Wei (2008, 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Nil
- Unfortunate for Chong Wei to be in the same era as arguably one of badminton's greatest ever Lin Dan. Silver more sentimental for country since LCW had to overcome a family crisis and a severe ankle injury before travelling to London. His track record in the Olympiad - Round 2 in Athens, silver in Beijing and silver in London. 

Koo Kien Kiet-Tan Boon Heong (Men's Doubles)
Age: 26 years, 11 months/24 years, 11 months
Final position: 4th
Best Asian: Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 3rd
Previous best: Quarterfinals in 2008
All-time best Malaysian performer: Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock (2nd) Atlanta 1996
Prospect in Rio 2016: Nil
- Either they be split or expect inconsistency from the duo who beat Naoki Kawamae-Shoji Sato (Japan), former world champion Howard Bach-Tony Gunawan (United States), Issara Bodin-Jongjit Maneepong (Thailand) but lost to Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng in semis and Chung Jae-sung-Lee Yong Dae (South Korea) in bronze play-off.

Goh Liu Ying - Chan Peng Soon (Mixed Doubles)
Age:23 years, 3 months /24 years, 4 months
Final position: Bottom 4 from 16 pairs
Best Asian: Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 8th
Previous best: Debutants
All-time best Malaysian performer: First ever mixed doubles pairs to play in the Olympics
Prospect in Rio 2016: Quarterfinals
- A disappointing maiden outing for the duo who lost all three group matches but expect them to bounce back.

Tee Jing Yee (Women's Singles)
Age: 21 years, 6 months
Final position: 17 to 32
Best Asian: Li Xuerui (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 15-17th
Previous best: Debutant
All time best Malaysian performer: Wong Mew Choo (quarterfinals) Beijing 2008
Prospect in Rio 2016: Quarterfinals
-  Lost one, won one but expect better things from Jing Yee.

Track cycling (London Velopark)

Azizulhasni Awang (Men's Keirin)
Age: 24 years, 7 months
Final position: 6th
Best Asian: Azizulhasni Awang
Rank in Asia: 1st
Previous best: 10th in Beijing
All-time best Malaysian performer: Josiah Ng (5th in Athens but disqualified for causing Mickael Bourgain to crash)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Podium finish
- Tried to outsprint physically superior rivals early to no avail but will be perennial contender for every major event

The media will remain supportive of our athletes

Azizulhasni Awang (men's Sprint)
Final position: 8th
Best Asian: Azizulhasni Awang
Rank in Asia: 1st
Previous best: 8th in Beijing
All-time best Malaysian performer: Azizulhasni Awang (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Podium finish
- Top Asian rider but more is expected from Jojohasni
Josiah Ng (Men 's Sprint, keirin)

Age: 31 years, 11 months
Did not compete

Fatehah Mustapa (Women's Keirin)
Age: 23 years, 5 months
Final position: 16th
Best Asian: Guo Shuang (China) 2nd
Rank in Asia: 3rd
Pevious best: Debutant
All-time best Malaysian performer: Fatehah Mustapa (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Semifinals
- Needs more exposure overseas

Road Cycling (The Mall)
Adiq Husainie Othman/Amir Mustafa Rusli
Age: 21 years, 4 months/25 years, 6 months
Final position: DNF (did not finish)
Best Asian: Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan) 22nd
Rank in Asia: Unranked
Previous best: Debutants
All-time best Malaysian performer: M. Kumaresan (Seoul 1988) 92nd
Prospect in Rio 2016: Doubtful
- Europe-based but performance not up to mark as they were among 29 riders who did not finish the race, having been told to quit as they were 18 minutes adrift of the leaders. Yukiya Arashiro, Wong Kam Po and Beppu were the Asians who managed to finish the race.

Diving (Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park)
Pandelela Rinong Pamg (10m platform, women's individual)
Age: 19 years, 5 months
Final standing: 3rd
Best Asian: Chen Ruo Lin (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 2nd
Previous best: 27th in Beijing 2008
All-time best Malaysian performer: Pandelela Rinong (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Silver medal
- Today darling of the nation but will forever have Chinese rivals to contend with
Traisy Vivien Tukiet (10m Platform, women's individual)
Age: 18 years old, 6 months
Final standing: 22nd in preliminary round
Best Asian: Chen Ruo Lin (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 7th
Previous best: Debutant
All-time best Malaysian performer: Pandelela Rinong (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Semifinals
- Expect her to play a supporting role

Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee (10m Platform Women's Synchronised)
Age: 19 years, 5 months/27 years, 8 months
Final standing: 7th
Best Asian: Chen Ruo Lin/Wang Hao (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 2nd
Previous best: Debutants
All-time best Malaysian performer: Pandelela Rinong/Mun Yee (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Pandelela to seek new partner, so doubtful
- Issue now who to replace Mun Yee!

The diving team in London

Bryan Nickson Lomas (10m Men's Platform)
Age: 22 years, 2 months
Final standing: 19th in preliminary round
Best Asian: Qiu Bo (silver medal)
Rank in Asia: 3rd
Previous best: 19th in Athens
All-time best Malaysian performer: Bryan Nickson Lomas (Athens 2004, London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Finals
- A disappointment by his standards, now has to make that step up

Yeoh Ken Nee (3m Men's Springboard)
Age: 29 years, 4 months
Final standing: 10th
Best Asian: Qin Kai (China) 2nd
Rank in Asia: 3rd
Previous best: 22nd in Sydney 2000
All-time best Malaysian performer: Yeoh Ken Nee (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Nil, having retired after London 2012
- Will retire having qualified for a final in an Olympic event, finally

Huang Qiang (3m Men's Springboard)
Age: 30 years, 4 months
Final standing: 19th in preliminary round
Best Asian: Qin Kai (China) 2nd
Rank in Asia: 4th
Previous best: Debutant
All-time best Malaysian performer: Yeoh Ken Nee (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Nil
- Naturalised Malaysian not likely to return to the pool but could play crucial role if Yang Zhuliang returns to Australia

Bryan Nickson and Huang Qiang (3m Men's Springboard Synchronised)
Age: 22 years, 2 months/30 years, 4 months
Final standing: 8th
Best Asian: Luo Yutong/Qin Kai (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 2nd
Previous best: Debutants
All-time best Malaysian performer: First appearance in synchronised
Prospect in Rio 2016: Who to partner Bryan?
- Now, who to partner Bryan to at least maintain being No 2 in Asia?

Cheong Jun Hoong (3m Women's Springboard)
Age: 22 years, 4 months
Final standing: 20th in preliminary
Best Asian: Wu Minxia (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 3rd
Previous best: Debutant
All-time best Malaysian performer: Cheong Jun Hoong (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Same
- Should focus on Asian Games

Wendy Ng Yan Yee
Age: 22 years, 1month
Final standing: 24th in preliminary
Best Asian: Wu Minxia (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 4th
Previous best: Debutant
All-time best Malaysian performer: Cheong Jun Hoong (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Same
- Should focus on Asian Games

Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong (3m Women's Springboard Synchronised)
Age: 19 years, 5 months/22 years, 4 months
Final standing: 8th
Best Asian: He Zi/Wu Minxia (China) 1st
Rank in Asia: 2nd
Previous best: Debutants
All-time best Malaysian performer: Pandelela/Jun Hoong (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Finalists
- Should focus on gold in Asian Games Incheon

Archery (Lords Cricket Ground)
Cheng Chu Sian, Kharul Anuar Mohamad, Haziq Kamaruddin - Men's Team Recurve
Age: 26 years, 5 months/20 years, 11 months / 19 years, 1 month
Final standing: 9-12th, lost to Mexico 216-211 in 1/8 elimination
Best Asian: South Korea (bronze)
Rank in Asia: 5th
Previous best: Quarterfinals in Beijing
All-time best Malaysian performer: Cheng Chu Sian, Marbawi Sulaiman, Wan Khalmizan Aziz quarterfinals Beijing 2008
Prospect in Rio 2016: Depends on duo to accompany Khairul Anuar
- A reshuffle is expected from now to Rio

Khairul Anuar Mohamad (individual)
Final standing: 6th (quarterfinalist)
Best Asian: Oh Jin  Hyek (South Korea) 1st
Rank in Asia: 5th
Previous best: Debutant  
All-time best Malaysian performer: Khairul Anuar Mohammad (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Semifinals
- Lost to eventual silver medallist Takaharu Furukawa of Japan, Khairul is best prospect for a medal in Asian Games 2014, Olympics 2016

Cheng Chu Sian (individual)
Final standing: 33-64th, preliminary round
Best Asian: Oh Jin  Hyek (South Korea) 1st
Rank in Asia: 14th
Previous best:  8th, quarterfinalist Beijing 2008
All-time best Malaysian performer: Khairul Anuar Mohammad (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Depends on whether or not Chu Sian wants to continue
- If he decides to take a break, may break his rhythm

Haziq Kamaruddin (individual)
Final standing: 33rd-64th, preliminary round
Best Asian: Oh Jin  Hyek (South Korea) 1st
Rank in Asia: 15th
Previous best: Debutant  
All-time best Malaysian performer: Khairul Anuar Mohammad (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: A lot to do
- Needs time and exposure to close the gap on Khairul

Nurul Syafiqah Hashim - Women's individual
Age: 18 years, 7 months
Final standing: 33-64th
Best Asian: Ki Bo Bae (South Korea) 1st
Rank in Asia: 13th and below
Previous best: Debutant
All-time best Malaysian performer: Mon Redee Sut Txi (44th) Athens 2004
- Needs higher level of competition at home and overseas. Asian Games podium could also prove unattainable

Shooting (Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich)
Nur Suryani Taibi -  women's 10m Air Rifle individual
Age: 29 years, 11 months
Final standing: 34th,  392 points in qualifying

Best Asian: Yi Siling (China) gold medal, 399, 502.9 in final
Rank in Asia: 10th
Previous best: Debutant
All-time best Malaysian performer: Nur Suryani Taibi (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Nil
- If Nur Ayuni Farhana Abdul Halim gets life in order and hits form, Nur Suryani can retire and take care of daughter

Fencing (Excel)
Yu Peng Kean - Men's Individual Sabre
Age: 21 years, 3 months
Final standing: 32nd out of 37 fencers
Best Asian: Gu Bon Gil (Korea) 10th
Rank in Asia: 7th
Previous best: Debutant
All-time best Malaysian performer: Yu Peng Kean (London 2012)
- Thanks to SEA Games gold medal and Peng Kean's Olympic debut where he lost to world No 5 Aron Szilagyi of Hungary, fencing may have won nod of approval for financial backing for Asian Games

Sailing (Weymouth and Portland, Dorset)
Khairulnizam Mohd Affendy (men's laser)
Age: 19 years, 3 months
Final standing: 47th
Best Asian: Colin Cheng (Singapore) 15th
Rank in Asia: 4th
Previous best: Debutant
All-time best Malaysian performer: Kevin Lim (22nd) Sydney 2000
Prospect in Rio 2016: Top 30 at best
- Focus on getting a medal at the Asian Games

Open Water Swimming (Hyde Park)
Heidi Gan -10km Women's Marathon
Age: 23 years, 10 months
Final standing: 16th, 2:00.45
Best Asian: Yumi Kida (Japan) 13th, 1:58.59
Rank in Asia: 2nd
Previous best: Debutant
All-time best Malaysian performer: Heidi Gan (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Will this event be held?
- Personal best by Perth-based Heidi should ensure financial assistance for SEA Games, Asian Games? 

Athletics (Olympic Park- Olympic Stadium)
Noraseela Khalid - women's 400m Hurdles
Age: 32 years, 11 months
Final standing: 39th
Best Asian: Satomi Kubokura (Jpn) 20th, 56.25sec
Rank in Asia: 3rd
Previous best: Debutant 
National mark: Noraseela Khalid (56.02sec) 2005
All-time best Malaysian performer: Noraseela Khalid (London 2012)
Prospect in Rio 2016: No women hurdlers in foreseeable future
- A poor performance may spell the end of the road for Noraseela
Lee Hup Wei - Men's High Jump
Age: 25 years, 3 months
Final standing: 31st
Best Asian: Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar) bronze medal
Rank in Asia: 4th
Previous best: 32nd, 2.20m (Beijing 2008)
National mark: Lee Hup Wei (2.27m) 2008 
All-time best Malaysian performer: Lee Hup Wei (Beijing 2008)
Prospect in Rio 2016: Finals
- May or may not be able to compete in Rio but should focus on Incheon

Swimming (Olympic Park-Aquatics Centre)
Khoo Cai Lin - 800m Freestyle
Age: 23 years, 8 months
Final standing: 30th, Sixth in Heat 2, 8:51.18
Best Asian: Shao Yiwen (China) 9th, 8:27.78
Rank in Asia: 3rd
Previous best:  34th, 9:04.86 (Beijing 2008)
All-time best Malaysian performer: Nurul Huda Abdullah (Seoul 1988) 8:50.84
- Should focus on the Asian Games

Finally, the concept was nice, but not the colour-coordination

Sunday, August 12, 2012

When top media boss gives credit to Jaya'98...

New Straits Times Press Group Managing Editor Jalil Hamid gave special mention to former National Sports Council (NSC) director general, Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad, the driving force and the strategic thinker behind the Jaya'98 programme in his column today. Rightly so! Read his take here.

Having reported the NSC's programmes extensively from 1991 to 2008, I know for a fact that weightlifting was given a new lease of life with the setting up of a centre in Kuala Rompin, shooting moved away from the skeet and trap of Ally Ong, Kaw Fung Ying and Ricky Teh to ISSF categories (air pistol, air rifle, prone), cycling from emphasis on road to track and archery was developed - all under Mazlan's instruction. Mazlan was director-general of NSC from 1993 to August 2005. His shoes have proven too big to fill by his successors. Read something never before published in mainstream media

Friday, August 10, 2012

For you, UntukMu, Ka'an mu'u Malaysia

Nice touch by the guys at here, as Pandelela Rinong Pamg somersaulted her way into our hearts with a bronze medal in the women's 10m platform in the London Olympics. Ka'an mu'u, Malaysia, that's For you Malaysia in Bidayuh.

For latest updates on Malaysian sports, log on to the newly-launched sports news portal helmed by former Malay Mail journo, Graig Nunis.

Back to Pandelela, in the process of landing the bronze, the lass, nicknamed Lulu Dolphin created a number of firsts. She is the first Malaysian woman to win a medal at the Olympics, the first Bukit Jalil Sports School product to climb the podium, the youngest Malaysian Olympic medallist, the first Sarawakian to nail a medal and the first National Sportswoman of the Year to win an Olympic medal.

The 19-year old is also the second flagbearer at the march past to scoop a medal after Razif Sidek in 1992! For the record she is the third Sarawakian to be accorded the honour of carrying our flag at the march past, after Kuda Ditta in 1964 and Bryan Nickson Lomas in 2004.

As guest of daily show Nadi Arena di London over Astro Arena, yours truly predicted a podium finish for Pandelela 14 hours before the final 

London 2012, from a fan's viewpoint

A diary written by Lee Hui Seng, from the Famemas Malaysian Supporters' Club.

The Lees - Chong Wei and Hui Seng

Goodbye London 2012! We would have been at the top of South East Asia on medals table, but it wasn’t to be. I was ready to celebrate at 19-17 in the 3rd set.

Lin Dan always goes for the kill when he is a few points down. DLCW lost 5 points after a disputed line call. Lin Dan looked troubled by his errors in 3rd set. LCW looked up to where we sat a few times to gain composure.

Malaysian fans were outnumbered by Red Army fans by 5 to 1. Alas, its just a distant memory now. Let's live to fight another day.

And Hello KL, great to be home again! During my one week in London for Olympics 2012, I met many Malaysians in stadiums who have migrated. They may be earning fat salaries there but they still miss home. Cheering for Lee Chong Wei in a stadium filled with Jalur Gemilang flags made them feel even more sentimental.

So, the grass is not necessarily greener there. Every Malaysian fan I met at Wembley Arena gate here complained they can’t buy tickets online or at door. Yet, I see empty seats despite public outrage on unused VIP & sponsor seats. Assurances by LOCOG were not yielding the positive results. Luckily, I got in for some sessions through the generosity of British fans who overbought tickets. How are our fans going to cheer DLCW (Don’t Let China Win)?

Sports is a passion and should be enjoyed by all, near or far. Severe tension also built up outside Wembley Arena for the Mens Doubles semi final Game between Koo Kien Kiat-Tan Boon Heong and World No 1 Cai Yun-Fu Hai Feng of China!

What impressed me about London 2012 was hordes of volunteers consisting of doctors, lawyers, elderly and students, stationed in every street corner. You won't get lost in London... Volunteerism at London Olympics 2012 here is just top class!

Every volunteer I met, goes all the way to make us sports tourists feel so welcome indeed eg. crossing road or giving directions to venues and Games info despite having pink signboards everywhere. If we are going to organize Olympics Games anytime in my life time, I wonder if we can get all 27 million Malaysians with 'Satu Hati' to share the same fire, passion and voluntary spirit.

DLCW (Don't Let China Win) has singlehandedly in one night, succeeded in uniting all 27 million Malaysians where politicians of all divide failed. All races, ages, political and professional backgrounds, even foreigners here, cheered for DLCW. He won all our humble hearts and shall be cherished for many years to come in our living memory.

 I was wearing Tiger T-shirt in London streets and a British woman stopped me in the street and said to me.. 'LCW is best'

 I suggest to parade Lee Chong Wei in an open top double decker bus around KL and Penang City Centre (his hometown). It will generally sum up people's current mood towards his heroic London Olympics Final act against Lin Dan... Owners of residences and houses on main London streets and roads leave their front gates open overnight. Here, a neighbour will call me in the middle of night to remind me to lock these gates, if I have forgotten.

Great British pastimes inside trains: do a Sudoku puzzle to tease the brain. Or read a book. Or try to read a newspaper in a packed train, while standing up, and after folding it into four pieces. Then leave it on seats after disembarking for next person that boards train. The typical British train is like a library..

Steps to improve public transportation in Malaysia: lessons from London 2012: Increase frequency of trains to reduce waiting times. Have coffee expresso kiosks at various locations in stations for commuter convenience.

There’s no rubbish bins anywhere in stations due to terrorism risk, Yet stations are so clean due to regular cleaning by platform cleaners every 10mins.

Train operators allow bicycles to be brought into trains for those who wish to ride train and cycle to work in city, to reduce environmental pollution and carbon footprint Cycle lanes in Hyde Park, London are exclusively for Boris bikers. (concept named after Mayor of London).

You will be shouted at if pedestrians or cars go in their way. Here, the reverse is true!:-) Iconic, but that’s how you would describe the derelict Battersea Power Station on River Thames edge, as seen from British Rail train from London Victoria to East Croydon stations.

Said to be bought by a JV Malaysian consortium comprising SP Setia Bhd &  Sime Darby Bhd, who beat Chelsea Football Club boss Abromavich to it. It remains the same shell structure since 1980s and has brought me sweet memories. Pink Floyd played a concert on the rooftop in the 80s.

                                                         The Battersea Power Station

Now it has Malaysian interest in it for a proposed development project that will change the landscape of London London 2012

Diary Footnotes:

Departed KLIA to London Heathrow with Malaysian 400m Woman Hurdler Noraseela Khalid, High jumper Lee Hup Wei,coach Jorge LuIs Alfaro and a MAU official Arrived at London Heathrow safely with Athletics team, Noraseela Khalid and Lee Hup Wei.

                                                                    Upon arrival

Stayed in Croydon, South East London, Joined Londoners at BT London Live Olympics at Hyde Park, complete with 4 large screens of the Games action. Had hoped more tickets would be put on sale due to public outrage on empty stadiums. Met many friendly volunteers at Heathrow airport and Underground stations to sort out first day problems. Biasalah...

Malaysian Secretariat members were also at airport. Its like back to future and a homecoming..revisited some nostalgic places in Croydon. Certain places there haven't changed 19 years!

1 Aug: 9.45am Lin Dan bt Taufik.12.30pm Jan Jorgensen lost to Lee Hyun Il. 3pm Lee Chong Wei bt Simon Santoso 21-12,21-8. 3pm Diving-Bryan Nickson & Huang Qiang, 8th with 405.09 pts. 5pm,Peter Gade bt Shon Wan Ho. 5pm Chen Long bt Wong WK. 5.45pm Chen Jin bt Mark Zwiebler.6.30pm Kevin Cordon lost to Sho Sasaki.

8pm,walkabout- Big Ben,London Eye, Horse Guards Parade, Beach volleyball venue, Chinatown. Retire for day at East Croydon Yay! Yay! Managed to buy a ticket from a British fan who can't come, for Lee Chong Wei vs Simon Santoso Round of 16 game at 2pm (Malaysia time 9pm on Wed 1 Aug).

Tickets were sold out on London 2012 website, no ticket booth at venue, only for collection. And not gonna come thousands of miles all the way here just to watch in hotel on BBC TV, Hyde Park 'Live' big screen or You Tube website.

Need to cheer Lee Chong Wei all the way to nothing less than historic first Gold Medal for Malaysia.LCW and Malaysia Boleh!

My London Olympics Diary on Thurs 2 Aug: Badminton, Wembley, 9am-11am, Men Doubles QF. 9am Koo KK-Tan BH bt Isara Bodin-Jongit Maneepong (Tha).9am,Cai Yun-Fu Hai Feng bt Chai Biao-Guo ZD. 9.45am Mohd Ahsan-Bona Septano lost to Chung JS- Lee YD.9.45am Fang CM-Lee SM lost to Boe-Carsten.

1pm,visited an old friend Mr Ho JT at Cricklewood. 5-8pm,Men Singles QF. 5pm Lee Chong Wei bt P Kashyap, Chen Long bt Gade. Lin Dan bt Sho Sasaki, 6.30pm Lee HI bt Chen Jin

BBC Top news on 2 Aug: 4 badminton Women Doubles pairs were disqualified. China asked its players to publicly apologise. Indonesia says its players were wrong and hope it won't happen again. Bigger scandal is players are pushing blame to coaches, saying they were 'under instruction' to lose. Incident is a terrible shame to world badminton & could affect badminton's inclusion in next Olympics.

BWF say they will review Group Stage play.

 Malaysian athletes' action at London Olympics 2012 on Fri 3 Aug: Archery, St. Johns Wood, Men Individual, Khairul Anuar Mohamed won, 9am, R16. Badminton, 13.30-5pm, Men Singles Semi Final ,Lee Chong Wei beat Chen Long, Mixed Doubles Final. Track Cycling,at Velopark, Stratford, 4pm-7pm, Keirin, Women, Fatehah Mustapha. Malaysia Go Go Go..Malaysia Boleh! (all UK times).

On Day7, London Olympics 2012,Great Britain got 6 Golds to bring total to 13 Gold. 3rd in medal table behind USA (26 Gold) & China (25 Gold). My darling athlete is adorable Jessica Ennis who won Woman Hepthalon. GB did well in rowing, track cycling eg Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins.

British loved her dearly; so much coverage of her on BBC.I have never seen such display of patriotism among public. Bring kids to stadium to expose them to sports. People display flags wherever they go,in parks, stadiums, pubs, trains

Malaysian athletes in action on Sat,4 Aug: 9am-12pm, Men Doubles, SF,Koo Kien Kiat-Tan Boon Heong lost to Cai Yun-Fu Hai Feng.Diving,3m,2.30pm,Semi, Women Ind. Cycling, Men Sprint, Azizul hasni Awang, 10am, Qualifying, 1/16 Final.4pm-7pm, 1/16 Final, R16, Finals. Malaysia Boleh! Malaysian athletes in action on Sunday, 5 Aug: Badminton,9-11am,MS & MD Bronze Medal Match,1-4pm,Men Singles & Men Doubles Gold Medal Match. Diving, 7-8.30pm, 3m Springboard Individual. Final. Cycling, Men Sprint,Azizul hasni Awang, 4.30-7pm,QF & Finals. Malaysia Boleh!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The man behind Chong Wei almost quit the sport

DATUK Lee Chong Wei is a step away from history. If he succeeds in turning the tables on Lin Dan on his rendezvous with destiny at Wembley Arena tonight, Chong Wei will not be the only individual to sample the sweet taste of victory.

Tey Seu Bock will finally emerge from the shadows of an old friend.

Who is Seu Bock, by the way? For many years the 39-year old was happy to be a mere assistant, a sparring partner and one of the backroom boys in the local badminton fraternity.

Ah Bock

He was content playing second fiddle to Malaysia’s most celebrated coach, Misbun Sidek. But things changed drastically in early 2011.

He has had to make that step up after being thrust into the limelight when Misbun, mentor and confidante to Lee Chong Wei since 2003, quit the BA of Malaysia in December 2010.

While Misbun is a living legend known for his eccentricity, quotable quotes and above all the coaching credentials that had groomed an Olympic bronze medallist and two All-England champions, Seu Bock has little to show on his CV.

And whereas six-time national champion Misbun enjoyed the distinction of leading Malaysia’s international expeditions throughout a colourful career, Seu Bock - a contemporary of former singles specialists Ong Ewe Hock and Yong Hock Kin – never quite made the grade.

“My playing career was a forgettable one. It was hard to break through the elite squad with so many players of quality,” Seu Bock recalled.

His foray into coaching, while still in his mid-20s, was the natural step to take. Seu Bock came under Misbun’s wings and tasked to help out with the shuttle drills, training regime and carrying out the latter’s instructions.

Sparring with Rashid Sidek, Roslin Hashim and his brother Hafiz and later Chong Wei was part of his job scope.

While Misbun and BAM were caught in a tug-of-war, Seu Bock quietly took over the role as Chong Wei’s courtside adviser.

Crucially, Chong Wei defended his All-England title with a victory over nemesis Lin Dan, three months into the new partnership.

Controversy ensued when Chong Wei, given a heroes’ welcome upon his return to Kuala Lumpur, revealed he had been in touch with Misbun asking him for pointers.

After all Chong Wei has credited Misbun as the biggest influence of his badminton life, a career that has taken him almost to the pinnacle, only to be beaten by Lin Dan before his home crowd in the Beijing Olympics final in 2008.

Today Chong Wei may still send Misbun text messages asking him about the latter’s wife (who underwent a successful kidney transplant in 2009) but the one calling the shots is Seu Bock.

Seu Bock lays out the training programme although he was also quick to give credit to Misbun’s younger brother, Rashid, men’s singles bronze medallist in Atlanta’96.

“Rashid lifts the burden off me with the administrative stuff. My job is to monitor Chong Wei’s fitness programme and advise him from the technical and tactical perspectives.”

That does little to the perception that Seu Bock is a trainer, not a planner or a strategist in the mould of Misbun.

“I know that’s what people say about me. But take the likes of Mourinho and Sacchi, they enjoyed success despite not having played football at the highest level.”

He has a point. In Misbun’s absence, Seu Bock has been a pillar of strength for Chong Wei.

In fact with Seu Bock solidly behind him, Chong Wei came narrowly close to landing the elusive world title, losing to Lin Dan in a thrilling but heart-breaking three-set encounter almost a year ago.

Since tearing his right ankle tendons against Peter Gade in the Thomas Cup finals in Wuhan on May 22, Chong Wei has gone through a huge emotional roller-coaster ride.

From the thrill of launching his book Dare to be A Champion, and the high of becoming an honorary high-ranking Navyman, his impending marriage to the low of the speculation that his family was in a crisis following allegations his father Lee Ah Chai had attempted suicide, Chong Wei needed someone to provide the steadying influence.

That someone is certainly Seu Bock.

“Having been an assistant to Misbun for years, I’m adjusting to this role.”

But once upon a time, taking charge of Malaysia’s only badminton superstar was the furthest from his mind.

In fact Seu Bock had contemplated leaving badminton altogether.

Eager to secure a better future financially, he set up a kopitiam, a traditional coffee shop that serves meals and beverage, in Pandan Perdana near the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur.

“I went into business thinking that it could earn me a steady income for the future,” said Seu Bock.

It lasted less than a year. “Maybe I was not cut out for business, so now I’m giving my all to badminton,” who hails from the serene tourist destination of Pengkalan Balak in the historical city of Malacca.

His all may or may not be good enough.

That remains to be seen as Seu Bock must have breathed a huge sigh of relief after Chong Wei survived a scare from Finland’s Ville Lang, a former European junior bronze medallist, in the only Group A contest at the Wembley Arena.

Chong Wei then stepped up a gear.

Indonesia’s Simon Santoso said Chong Wei played as if he was not recovering from a serious injury, while India’s Kashyap Parupali was always a second too slow for the Penang ace in the quarterfinals.

Chen Long, touted to be the next Lin Dan, was shown the exit in two games as Chong Wei earned another shot at the gold.

“Before this he needed the playing time. Chong Wei has yet to overcome the pyschological scar of his ankle injury. His body is 95 percent ready, the rest is up to his mental state of mind,” said Seu Bock ahead of the Olympics.

“I think the fact that he was recovering from an injury took the pressure off him. Seldom has he been given the underdogs tag. We will see how things unfold,” said Seu Bock.

Following the victory over Chen Long, Chong Wei went over to hug Seu Bock and Rashid.

A bigger hug for the duo will be assured if he emerges victorious tonight, reminiscent to Chong Wei's big hug for Misbun in the 2008 Olympics.

Things will never be the same for all three, if that becomes a reality.

Tun Dr M, Tun Dr Hasmah doakan kejayaan LCW

Bekas penaung Persatuan Badminton Malaysia (BAM) Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali mendoakan kejayaan Datuk Lee Chong Wei menjelang pertarungan dengan Lin Dan pada final perseorangan lelaki Sukan Olimpik di Wembley Arena malam ini.

"Saya doakan kejayaan Chong Wei. Kita harap dia dapat emas," kata Dr Siti Hasmah selepas majlis buka puasa bersama anak yatim anjuran Taman Ekuestrian Putrajaya malam tadi.

Bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mencelah, "Apa lagi kita boleh buat, kita doakan saja."

Namun kedua-dua Tun itu nampaknya tidak akan menonton final yang juga ulangan pertemuan akhir Beijing 2008.

"Tak, kami ada jemputan buka puasa...tapi InsyaAllah kami akan rakam dan tonton kemudian," kata Dr Siti Hasmah.

Dr Siti Hasmah berkata beliau teringat ketika sama-sama menghulurkan sokongan kepada skuad badminton negara pada temasya Olimpik di Barcelona pada 1992.

"Ya ketika itu kita cipta sejarah, memenangi pingat gangsa buat kali pertama menerusi Razif-Jalani Sidek. Kita harap dapat emas pula."

Azam, aku, Tun Dr M dan Tun Dr Siti Hasmah. Tun M sempat bermain dengan telinga anak ku