Tuesday September 25, 2012
44-year-old Sazali grabs eighth Mr Asia title in Guangzhou
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Age is just a number for Sazali Samad who continues to stamp his mark as one of the best bodybuilders in Asia.
Sazali, who turns 45 on Oct 8, gave himself an early birthday present by flexing his way to a record eighth Mr Asia title at the Asian bodybuilding and physique championships in Guangzhou on Sunday.
Sazali came out tops in the below 70kg (lightweight) category final at the Tianhe Sports Centre to regain the title he last won in the 2010 edition in Teheran.
Sazali was top ranked in pre-judging and maintained the form in the final to finish ahead of Iranian Yousef Karimi while Vietnamís Nguyen Hai Au took the bronze.
Sazali is on record as the most successful bodybuilder Malaysia has produced. He won his first Mr Asia title in 1996 in the bantamweight category and followed up with triumphs in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2010.
The previous most decorated Malaysian bodybuilder at Asian level was Datuk Malek Noor, who was a six-time winner in the heavyweight category.
ďI wanted to regain the Asian title I lost last year and continued training although I was fasting last month. Itís more of a challenge as I get older but I just try harder.
ďItís great to win here as bodybuilding wasnít in the programme at the last Asian Games which China hosted.
ďThis year has been good for me as I was also promoted to sub-inspector in the police force,Ē the two-time National Sportsman of the Year said from Guangzhou.
The southern Chinese city hosted the Asian Games in 2010 and Sazali would have been a good bet for a medal as he had won the silver in Doha four years earlier.
Sazaliís triumph is certainly a welcome boost to his hopes of making a successful title defence in the world championships in Bangkok from Dec 5-10.
He will be going for his eighth world title, having claimed his first in the 65kg category (bantamweight) in Malacca in 2000, followed by wins in Moscow (2004) and Ostrava, Czech Republic (2006).
Sazali moved up to the 70kg category in 2007 and was on top again in Jeju, South Korea (2007), Dubai (2009), Varanasi, India (2010) and Malacca (2011).
At the Asian championships in Guangzhou, Malaysia also bagged a silver through Mohd Shahrul Azman Mahen in the menís physique 170cm category and a bronze from Badrulshah Baharuddin in the below 75kg category.
Buda Anchah and Mark Allan Magindol were placed fourth in the below 65kg and 85kg respectively.
Two other Malaysians Ė Aloysius Jaimon and Ismadi Riji Ė did not make the finals in their respective 80kg and 100kg categories.