Sarawak claim historic national water polo win

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(Second row from fifth left) Malaysia Swimming Federation water polo technical chairman Goh Kah Yi and Voon are seen with the jubilant Sarawak team members.

KUCHING (July 6): The Sarawak Boys U16 team has emerged champions of the esteemed 58th Milo/PRM Malaysia Age Group Water Polo Championship.

In an extraordinary display of talent and determination, the Boys U16 final saw Sarawak beating Selangor 16-13.

This was the first time after more than 20 years that a Sarawak junior team has won a national championship.

Simultaneously, the Sarawak girls secured a commendable bronze medal in the Women’s Open after finishing behind Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

The tournament held from June 30 to July 2 in Negeri Sembilan showcased the immense potential of these young athletes and their unwavering commitment to the sport.

The Sarawak Boys U16 comprised Presley Phang Yi Qi, Casper Tan Ting Fung, Bryan Lee Ming Yik, Elton Lau Hue Yang, Ong Zong Lian, Samuel Chong Yue Yang, Nathan Tan Wen Kai, Clement Yeo Kai Xun, Sam Wong Jun Bin, Carlson Ngo Qirui, Elmer Chong Yue Cern, Bowen Chin Bao Wen, and Teo Siaw Yu.

In the Open Women’s category, the players were Sara Tham Kar Mei, Lavinia Clarissa Ascotia, Ernice Chin Ern Xin, Dalysha Teo Jia Xin, Camellia Ang Yee Ern, Ong Zhi Yen, Hannah Serini Tan Yihui, Bernice Bong Shi Han, Faustina Kow Hooi Xian, Penelope Jade Jing Ying Hopkins, and Phoebe Thua Ee Mean.

Presley was also awarded the ‘Most Valuable Player’ title twice, while Bryan, Sara, Lavinna, and Casper won other awards.

Team coach Voon Yong Hui said both teams exhibited remarkable skill and fearlessness, surpassing expectations despite their tender age.

The women’s team, predominantly comprised of 14- to 16-year-olds, fearlessly competed in the Open category against experienced adult players and former national athletes.

“This impressive achievement not only underscores their proficiency but also bodes well for their continuous development as they persevere with their rigorous training,” Voon, the founder of Power Aquatics Swimming Club (PASC), told The Borneo Post.

He said the boys’ team showcased relentless dedication and tireless effort that culminated in securing the championship title.

Displaying admirable teamwork and technical prowess, the young squad triumphed emphatically and this success serves as a solid foundation for their future endeavours in the sport.

Moreover, the tournament held significant implications as it served as a crucial selection ground for the SEA Age Groups, scheduled to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia in August.

“Despite their youthfulness, there is an optimistic hope that some of our players may be selected to represent Malaysia in the U20 water polo tournament.

“This opportunity not only highlights their potential but also positions them as rising stars in the sport,” said Voon.

Confidence abounds that this exceptional group of players will secure places in the national team for future SEA Games, provided they maintain their diligent training regimen.

Voon thanked the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the provision of training facilities at their pool.

He said the Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC) and Minister of Youth, Sports and Entrepreneur Development Dato Sri Abdul Karim also deserved special acknowledgment for their unwavering support in promoting young athletes in water polo.

“We hope that water polo will be included in the prestigious Sukma XXI to be held in Sarawak next year.

“Currently, the boys’ team is preparing for the Malaysian School Sports Council (MSSM) championship in August, which will be held in Selangor.

“Besides, both the boys and girls’ teams will prepare for the Malaysia Invitation Water Polo Championship in October in Perak,” said Voon.

He added that PASC is now grooming new players and welcomes anyone interested to be part of the team.

Those interested can call Voon on 016-8885623.