KUCHING: Members of the 13-strong Sarawak wushu team especially those who have undergone a training-cum-exposure stint in China are all geared up for the stiff challenge in Sukma at Kolej Matrikulasi Perak, Gopeng from Sept 11 to 13.
Sarawak will be fielding 10 athletes for the taolu (optional routine) competition while the other three represent the state’s debut appearance in sanda (free sparring) competition.
Their mission is to secure four gold medals in the biennial meet.
Those entered for taolu events are national athletes Clement Ting Su Wei, Audrey Chan Yee Jo and Lee Hui Xian, Muhammad Assri Abdul Wahab, Elvic Bong Qiann Zheng, Clement Thian Fung Seng, Chiew Sow Hong (captain), Fu Sian Wei, Yong Arifah Khairul Kok and Stephanie Ngu Chai Ern.
The sanda athletes are Daniel Manggin, Chua Teck Kai and Kelvin Kong Qi Fatt.
While admitting that it would be very competitive in Perak, Sarawak contingent assistant chef-de-mission for wushu Allen Wong Siew Poh is optimistic that the state athletes can deliver the four-gold medal target set for the team.
He picked out Malacca and Negri Sembilan as the main challengers because they have the most number of athletes in the national team.
“Wushu has been a consistent performer and one of the major contributors of gold medals for the Sarawak Contingent in past Sukma meets and I am very confident that we can maintain that status in Perak,” he said after attending the final assessment for the state team at the state elite wushu training centre at Kota Sentosa Sports Centre, Jalan Stakan on Tuesday.
Also present were WFS deputy president James Ting Ing Seek, MSNS coordinator for wushu Thomas Chia Soon Hock, ISN official Joshua Kudi Philip, head coach Yoong Thong Foong and coaches Ling Ung Hee and Lau Hui Wei.
Wong, also the president of the Wushu Federation of Sarawak (WFS), said all the athletes have improved much after the consistent training and stints in China.
“We are banking on the three national athletes Clement Ting (changquan, daoshu, gunshu), Audrey Chan (taijiquan, taijijian) and Hui Xian (nanquan, nangun, nandao) to win the gold medals while Sukma XVIII taijiquan gold medalist Assri, Elvic Bong and Stephanie Ngu are also potential gold medalists.
“Except for newcomer Fu Xian Wei and the sanda athletes, the rest of the team have competed in at least one or two Sukma meets,” said Wong, adding that Sarawak are proud to have a Malay (Arifah) and a Melanau (Assri) in the team, making it a multi-racial team.
“We have our strengths and the majority of the athletes are feeling very confident after the China training stints in October last year and from July 25 to Aug 25.”
“We are feeling good for the top three finish in this Sukma.”
Wong, however, lamented that the training facilities at the state elite training centre has not gotten any better although the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah had visited it a few times.
“During a heavy downpour, the rain water will be blown in by the strong winds and also seep into the carpet and damaging it,” he pointed out.
As such, he is sincerely hoping that the state government will support the association’s proposal for the allocation of the training centre at the Sarawak Stadium Complex soonest to facilitate the development of the elite and potential athletes.
“As some of the athletes (Clement Ting, Audrey Chan, Assri and Sow Hong) are no longer eligible for the next Sukma due to age limit, we need to develop more new talents and need more better facilities to prepare for Sukma 2020, 2022 and beyond,” added Wong.
He also saw the vital need to start preparing the state wushu athletes for Sukma Johor straight after Sukma Perak.
“We are also planning to send two to three potential athletes for long-term training in China as part of our preparation for the next two Sukma,” he said.
The team manager for the taolu team is WFS secretary Lucas Lim Tee Kiat while Jame Ting will manage the sanda team which is coached by Lyde Lait.