S’wak’s best set for SEA Games action

Left pic: Sprinter Jonathan Nyepa // Right: Volleyball player Stephanie Law

KUCHING: Top athletes from Sarawak will be in the thick of action when the 29th SEA Games kick off in Kuala Lumpur next week. Whether in the blue riband athletics programme, swimming and diving pool, wushu arena or most of the venues of competition, they will join forces with fellow Malaysian teammates in seeking glory for the country in the regional games which ends on the eve of the nation’s birthday.

The state has nine athletes in the track & field squad, volleyball (8), wushu (4), rugby (3), at least two each in swimming, diving, tennis, taekwondo and football, and at least one each in women’s hockey, judo, shooting, cycling and golf.

Hammer throwers Jackie Wong and Grace Wong were bronze medalists at the last edition in Singapore two years ago. Much improved, both having shattered national records just this year, they are eyeing the gold this time round on home ground.

The current crop of talented national sprinters are expected to make waves at Bukit Jalil in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. In the much anticipated men’s century sprint, Sarawak’s Jonathan Nyepa (10.28sec) will join national record holder Khairul Hafiz Jantan (10.18s) in the race to decide the fastest man in Southeast Asia.

In volleyball, Sarawak has contributed seven female and one male players to strive for an elusive medal in a sport which has been in the doldrums for Malaysia for over a decade.

The quartet of Diana Bong Siong Lin and her younger brother Gjeblehem Bong Teck Fuu, Loh Jack Chang and Audrey Chan Yee Jo will be in action in wushu. Golds are expected from Loh, Diana and Audrey as the threesome have won golds in previous SEA Games while Gjeblehem will be making his debut.

In shooting, Sarawak is represented by 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Bibiana Ng Pei Chin who is using her SEA Games outing to gain points in her bid to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Sarawak has only one player in the women’s hockey squad in Sukma assistant coach Fazillah Sylvester Silin, who played in the Spanish professional league.

The state is well known for its systematic development of tennis and this time US-based Aslina Chua An Ping and KL-based Mohd Assri Merzuki will see action.

Taiwan-based Brenton Sim is the sole Sarawakian in the national squad to carry Malaysia’s challenge in judo.

In football, striker Nur Shamie Iszuan Amin and winger-cum-striker Tony Mawat Bada have made it into Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s national team.

In rugby, four Sarawak girls will see action in Kuala Lumpur next week after putting on national jerseys.

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