KUCHING: The Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM)-Milo Sports Girl Award 2009 will spur Sarawak’s rising swimming star Erika Kong Chia Chia to scale greater heights.
This award could not have come at a better time as the 15-year-old national swimmer is recovering from a rather disappointing outing at the recent Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
In fact, Kong and her father who is also her personal trainer, Anthony Kong was caught by surprise when the news were broken to Erika that she had won the award.
“We were very surprised by the result. We had never expected that Erika would win the award and that there are better candidates like our state’s diving star Pandelela Rinong Pamg and others in other sports,” Kong said in an interview last Sunday night.
According to Kong, Pandelela was outstanding in 2009 where she competed at the World Diving Championship, qualified for the Youth Olympics in Singapore and won gold at SEA Games.
“When the State Education Department approached me to send Erika’s nomination for the sports awards, I just provided them her list of achievements in 2009,” said Kong. Erika won the bronze medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke in her first appearance at the SEA Games in Laos last year.
At the recent Commonwealth Games, Erika featured in the 50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke and 200m breaststroke individual events.
He was pleased to note that Erika had kept the state flag flying in the sports awards as national swimmer Daniel Bego had won the Sports Boy Award in 2006 and Pandelela the Sports Girl Award in 2008.
Another Sarawakian swimmer Tang Chong Heng won the Most Promising Sports Boy Award 2009.
Erika received her award from Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong in Putrajaya on Oct 14.
The form three student at SM Lodge was the winner of the Promising Sports Girl Award in 2007.
This award ceremony is an annual event organised to honour the achievement of students who are involved in sports and also to recognise the contribution of teachers in the national sports development.
“I am grateful for the recognition given by the Education Ministry and Milo to my daughter. This award comes with a responsibility and the need to be more focused to meet the demand and expectations placed on her to do better at a higher level,” added Kong.
He said Erika is now looking forward to a better outing in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China next month where she will be competing in the women’s 50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke and 200m breaststroke individual events. The China meet from Nov 12 to 27 will also be the last for Erika this year.
“The Asian Games is a completely different competition altogether from the Commonwealth Games and I am strongly confident that Erika will do well in Guangzhou,” said Kong.
Upon her return to Kuching more than a week ago, Erika was back to regular training for 11 sessions a week which includes two daily sessions from 5.30am to 7.30am and from 6pm to 8.30pm.
She will depart for Kuala Lumpur on Nov 8 and fly with the national swimming team to Guangzhou the following day.