KUCHING: While most of the state athletes are already getting adapted to the new facilities in their respective sports, the state shooters are still awaiting that opportunity.
This is because the new RM15 million Sarawak Shooting Range at the Sarawak Stadium Complex in Petra Jaya is not ready for use.
The obviously upset Sarawak team manager Chung Ming Chong was quick to shoot down the celebrated official story Sarawak shooters will be enjoying home ground advantage.
“We are having a big headache now. We have a new shooting range but we can’t use it. So we will be on the level playing field with other teams because we don’t get to train at the new facility,” he told the Borneo Post.
According to Chung, the new shooting facility is awaiting approval from the Police (PDRM) as it has not met certain requirements mainly on the safety aspects.
The Police had made the test firing and safety inspection on the shooting range on June 30 and some renovations and amendments have to be done before they can issue a permit.
And this is not the only problem facing the shooters.
They are presently training at the PDRM shooting range at Batu Kawa with faulty equipment.
“The equipment for the 25m and 50m had broken down long ago and not being replaced. We did voice out this problem to the authorities concerned and even to the (then) Assistant Sports Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shim who visited us before the Perlis Sukma and in December last year.
“Only the 10m equipment can be used,” he noted.
“We would like to record our appreciation and gratitude to Datuk Lee that after the visit, renovation was done to the indoor shooting range and that we were able to get our new guns on June 9 this year,” he added.
But the new guns, replacing the ‘antique’ guns that the shooters have been using since 1994, came so late that the shooters had little time to get used to their ‘new toys’.
“We got the new guns in June but that doesn’t help much because it will take two to three months for our shooters to get used to them. So some of them will still be using the old guns for this Sukma.
“The training was also disrupted because we did not have bullets from February to April this year.
Despite the odds in their preparation for the Sukma challenge, Chung said the shooters remain very committed in their training and are raring to give their best shot in the hunt for gold medals during the competition from July 25-29.
“They are not frailed by the lack of new training equipment and facilities and they have started training full-time from July 4,” he said.
“We are also thankful to the parents for their understanding and unwavering support by sending their children to train here.”
Chung also expressed his appreciation of the team’s armourer Hawie Brodie who, despite not receiving his pay for three months, is still very dedicated with the maintenance of the guns.
On the three-gold medal target set by the Sarawak State Sports Council (MSNS), Chung believes that it is achievable based on the fact seven shooters were retained from the Perlis 2014 squad and the strong commitment and team spirit that the shooters have displayed.
“We are eyeing gold in the women’s 10m air pistol, men’s 50m air rifle and men’s 25m air pistol. Of course, other shooters are also capable of winning medals,” he said.
Sarawak are fielding eight shooters each in 13 events that offer 26 golds for the men’s and women’s competitions.
Chung said Delphine Chung, Joseph Lau, David Teo and Nur Firzanah Maisah gained some international exposure when they competed in the ISSF Junior Cup in Suhl, Germany last year where Delphine finished a creditable 26th out of 77 participants.
After the 10-day Germany outing, Delphine gunned down a silver in the women’s 10m air pistol with 369 points, using a 22-year old gun at the 5th National Junior Air Pistol Championship in Subang, Selangor in October.
Sarawak bagged a bronze medal at the 4th National Junior Air Rifle Championship at Subang in June through Nur Firzanah in the women’s 10m air rifle.
She lost to the gold medallist from Kuala Lumpur by a mere 0.10 points.
Sarawak came back empty-handed from Perlis Sukma in 2014 and Pahang Sukma 2012.
In Malacca Sukma 2010, they won two silver and two bronze medals while Chia Soon Choy bagged the only gold medal for Sarawak in Terengganu in 2008, which was the last gold in the sport that Sarawak have won at Sukma.