Friday January 11, 2013
AYOF provides junior shooters the chance to strut their stuff
By ASHREENA PILLAI
SUBANG JAYA: Exposure. That’ll be the name of the game when the junior shooters compete in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney from Jan 17-20.
This will be Malaysia’s sixth appearance at the biennial Games but development squad coach Mohd Sabki Mohd Din is more interested in ensuring that his shooters gained maximum experience from the outing.
“Yes, we want to improve our haul of four golds, one silver and one bronze from 2009. But, more importantly, it will be a great exposure for our shooters to compete against their peers,” he said.
“It’s the best platform to test themselves and for us to gauge their skills.”
Malaysia will send the maximum 10 shooters to the festival – six men and four women.
The men are Choo Wen Yan and Abdul Hadi Abd Malek (both 10m air pistol and 50m pistol); Mohd Nurrahimin Abdul Halim and Mohd Lufti Othman (both 10m air rifle, 50m rifle three-position and 50m rifle-prone); Benjamin Kor (double trap) and Joseph Lee (skeet).
The four women are Aida Natasya Mohd Rasip and Aina Zahiran (both 10m air rifle and 50m rifle three-position); and Nurul Fatihah Mohd Tahir and Nur Zunaira Zakaria (both 10m air rifle and 25m pistol three-position).
“We have a good crop of youngsters in the squad and all we need to do is polish their skills and build up their mental strength and endurance because they are the ones who will be absorbed into the senior squad,” said Mohd Sabki, the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in the men’s 50m rifle prone (pair).
“We’ve seen vast improvements in the sport now. A few years back, you would not see any juniors competing in the shotgun event but now we have Benjamin and Joseph. It’s good to see these juniors coming through and competing against the world’s best. Plus, they’re only 19 and 15 years old ... so there’s tons of potential there.”
Meanwhile, AYOF debutant Wen Yan is looking forward to squaring off with shooters from Canada, China, Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and host nation Australia when he competes at the Sydney International Shooting Centre in Cecil Park.
“My preparation has been good so far, so I’m quite happy. It’ll be my first time competing at the festival. I’m just looking forward to having a great outing there and gaining as much experience as I can,” said Wen Yan.
“I’m not going to go there with high expectations. I’m looking to maintain my personal best of 568 (10m air rifle) and 535 (50m pistol). Bettering my scores will be the icing on the cake.”