SIBU: Teams like Terengganu, Kelantan and Kedah may be traditionally strong in muay thai but Sarawak exponents have a well-earned reputation as among the most feared fighters in the sport.
State head coach Muhammad Azan Mohd Nazri, who hails from Kelantan, is confident that the state fighters are capable of giving their counterparts a good run for their money at Sukma XIX in Perak next month.
According to the coach, Sarawak fighters are respected for their reputation as tough opponents with high fighting spirit.
“The Sarawak Muaythai Association officials and others involved in the sport have worked tirelessly to raise the standard of the sport in the state.
“There is a lot of improvement in the Sarawak athletes and we feel we can cause some surprises in the coming Sukma even though our rivals in the peninsula like Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu are traditionally strong.
“In fact, we have a reputation for being game fighters and muay exponents in the West often treat our fighters from Borneo with great respect.
“The system of professional fights is by KO (knockout) but in Sukma it is by points so Sarawak players have good chance to win,” added Azan.
“I find a lot of commitment in the Sarawak training camp and I believe in hard work and for us, it’s no pain, no gain,” he
said at the Eagle Gym in Sibu where the Sarawak fighters are undergoing their final phase of training.
“I emphasised on techniques, tactical and stamina in the training as these factors are very important in muay,” he said.
Sarawak have prepared well for this Sukma as they had won titles in national competitions with one athlete even winning a gold in Thailand in 2013.
They have also won a number of gold medals in the national competitions in the run-up to Sukma XIX.
The state team comprises seven fighters from Kuching while the rest are from Bintulu, Engkilili and Lundu.
In the men’s team are Ayu Addya Azmi, Prtasarathee Punniyamoorthy, Awangku Abdul Rahman Awang Maraya, Mohd Azhar Abdul Razak, Elias Ghazali Zilfikar, Morris Hii Zhen Wei, Kabilan Jelevan Thiagarajan, Abang Mohd Uqail Abang Mustapha and Mohd Eswandy Hasan.
Making up the women’s team are Ranti Niza Jina, Ellyana Awie Tigang, Aurora Xinghua Chai Xiao Mei, Effa Izzarina Herrizan, Elia Zonia Augustine Peter and Diana Acha Bakit.
Their mission is to win four gold medals in this Sukma.
The team is managed by Norizan Ibrahim while the coaches are Azan, Tang Hui Ding, Farid Dahalan and Ali Mos.
Sukma XIX assistant chef-de-mission for this sport is Kennedy Chuckpai Ugon.