Nov 6, 2006

Gold hopes lifted with duo's return

THE Malaysian sepaktakraw squad to the Asian Games have been given aboost with the return of Mohd Futra Abdul Ghani and Mohd Normanizam. The duo, together with Mohammad Zulkarnain, are Malaysia's best bets towin a gold medal in the inter-regu event in Doha. According to national sepaktakraw team manager DSP Idris Karim the duowere initially doubtful of making the trip after both suffered ankleinjuries. However, Idris said the duo have now been given the all-clear bydoctors from the National Sports Institute (NSI). "We are glad that Mohd Futra and Mohd Normanizam have been given thegreen light to play, even though earlier they had been complaining ofpain," said Idris in a telephone interview from Langkawi where the teamare undergoing their final phase of training. Futra, Normanizam and Zulkarnian are best remembered for endingMalaysia's 12-year Sea Games gold drought in last year's Manila Games. "Preparations are going on well and we will be returning to KualaLumpur on Nov 13. "After that, the players will undergo medical screening and anti-dopingtests just before we leave for Doha on Nov 18." Mohd Normanizam, who plays as a 'tekong' (server) is the only member inthe 15-member squad who can execute the 'sepak kuda' with an ace. Malaysia will be competing for three of the six gold medals on offer inDoha - the men's team, inter-regu and doubles. The last time Malaysia won gold at the Asian Games was in Hiroshima in1994. Then, Malaysia picked up two gold medals via the team andinter-regu. In Busan four years ago, Malaysia won a silver in the team event and abronze in the inter-regu - Christopher Raj

Nov 4, 2006

Alex Lee's son eyes top post

ANTHONY Lee Fook Weng, son of the late Tan Sri Alex Lee, the formerpresident of the Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia (SRAM), wants tohead the national association. Anthony has decided to challenge SRAM president Datuk A. Sani Karim atits annual general meeting tomorrow. Anthony is currently a vice-president and also the competitionscommittee chairman. Alex served as SRAM president from 1989-1999, while Sani becamepresident in 2004 after taking over from Datuk Mohkzani Mahathir. Sani was deputy president between 1999 and 2000 but resigned due topersonal reasons. He was elected World Squash Federation vice-presidentin 2002 and to a second term at the WSF AGM in Mauritius. He was also a prime mover in the world body's lobby to get squashincluded in the 2012 Olympics. The other vice-president, Datuk Aini Taib, will be challenged bycommittee members Abdul Rahim Ali and Lim Chong Leong. A committee member, who declined to be named, said: "There has beensome campaigning going on, but at the end of the day, it's the members'right to decide who they want. "The development of the game must be taken into consideration. Sani hasbeen doing a good job but if the members feel that it's time for achange, they should be wise in doing so." - CHRISTOPHER RAJ

Nov 3, 2006

Sazali set to muscle in on gold

NEWLY-crowned Mr Universe Sazali Samad (pic) is ready to win gold in theAsian Games on Dec 1-15. Sazali is in a buoyant mood following his victory in the World AmateurChampionships in the Czech Republic last Sunday but he needs no reminderabout the tough assignment in Doha. Sazali, who is leaving no stone unturned in his preparations, willleave for California on Nov 9 to continue training under coach MilosSarcev, who will also accompany Sazali to Doha. "This is is the first time we are sending bodybuilders overseas fortraining, Sazali told us that training under Sarcev, even though for twoweeks before the world championships in the Czech Republic, has made aworld of difference. Therefore we decided that Sazali should continue totrain for another month under Sarcev," said National Sports Councildeputy director-general Datuk Zolkples Embong yesterday. Sazali became the first Asian to win the 65kg category three times inthe World Amateur Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic, last week. The 39-year-old policeman, who hails from Batu Pahat, has also won theMr Asia title five times. "I dedicate the Mr Universe victory to all Malaysians who have beensupporting me. Now my focus is on winning gold in Doha." Sazali described Sarcev, a former Mr Olympia contestant, as a very goodcoach. "He has taught me the importance of eating the right food,especially during competitions, and also guided me on different poseswhich are important in international events like the Asian Games. Certainexercises have also added more definition to my muscles." said Sazali Sazali may be the favourite but he is also under no illusions about hisprospects in Doha, saying he expects stiff competition from China,Indonesia, Thailand, Iran and Myanmar. "Bodybuilders from these countrieshave also improved a lot. There were some good bodybuilders who competedin the world championships in the Czech Republic." Sazali, who started bodybuilding at 24, hopes to turn professionalafter the Games. "I've been advised by Sarcev to turn professional to enable me tocompete in Mr Olympia and other international events, but I am also awarethat I will not be able to compete in regional games or even the AsianGames as a professional." But right now, his future is the least of his worries. The only thingin Sazali's mind is gold in the Games - By Christopher Raj