17th July, 2012
HISTORIC … Sabah footballers beat Perak 3-0 in the final for the gold.
KUANTAN: Despite winning only 18 gold, 20 silver and 52 bronze medals, well below its target of 31 gold medals in the 15th Sukma which ended yesterday, every Sabahan can be proud of our golfers and footballers who created history.
After a few gloomy days for Sabah, it was the Boys’ and Girls’ golfers who brought the joy back at the Royal Pahang Golf Course when they made a clean sweep of all four gold medals at stake, a first for any state since the very first Sukma was held.
Runaway leader Albright Chong, the anchorman for the Boys’ team of Solomon Emillio, Fazley Ahmad Chua and Leduin Jordon Mobijohn, started very strongly and consistently to finish his 3-day under-par battle on the course that saw him as the outright individual overall champion to help Sabah earn the team gold medal as well with a total score of 434.
Teammate, Aretha Pan, who teed-off as second fiddle until the final round, where she continued her fine run with par-golf to overtake leaders Iman Dato Ahmad Nordin (Pahang) and Kelly Tan (Johor), won the gold medal in a play-off against Kelly.
Both Aretha and Kelly ended with identical 3-under scores, and this was the moment of truth as Chef-De-Mission Datuk Suzannah Liaw, senior officials, teammates, SGA President George Bandusena, team manager Ronnie Pan and coach Toshi Wasa were excited as they waited for Aretha to appear on the fairway.
They had already known the results then with Albright as the Boys’ champion and also the Boys’ and Girls’ teams’ golden feats, where all eyes were on Aretha versus her national teammate Kelly in the one-hole playoff.
As both golfers appeared round the dog-leg fairway, Kelly’s 2nd shot landed awkwardly on the apron slope, while Aretha’s 2nd shot with her 9-iron landed 8 feet away from the pin for an eagle putt.
Cheer and applause came from the Sabah supporters which gave her the impetus after Kelly birdie putted and Aretha jumped for joy when she proved her good putting skill to sink the eagle putt to win her first Sukma individual gold medal.
Joy was in the air as all those present, including Suzannah and coach Rokia Daud were seen shedding tears of joy and pride for the golfers’ historic feats.
Later in the evening at the Darul Makmur Stadium a battle for the Mother of Gold Medals, Sabah footballers did not disappoint the fans and supporters who thronged the stadium to lend support with yet another historic moment, when they beat Perak 3-0 in extra time.
Sabah scored through Zul Mansshah Aling, Leopold Alfonso Otong and Mohd Rozaimi Abd Rahman, after a 0-0 stalemate in regulation time.
After the final whistle, the supporters and Sukma Task Force Chairman Datuk Jahid Jahim, Suzannah and officials went into frenzy.
Coach Johnny Dominicus and team manager Alijus Hj Sipil were greeted by fans and officials, all trying to convey and share their joy.
Days earlier, Girl lifter Frenceay Titus saved the day for Sabah after she lifted two gold medals in the 58kg division and in the process broke the meet and national records in the snatch and clean and jerk, which saw her being the only athlete from the Sabah contingent to receive the biggest cash incentive of RM9,000 for her feats. She was also judged Sabah’s Best Overall Athlete.
Another meet record was broken when archer Adam Wong won the Boys’ 30m Recurve event, followed by the rest of the gold medallists – sailor Nicole Chan (Laser 4-7), boxer Khairol Kalai (60kg), kegler Steffira Zeandra Greater (Girls’ all event), Hamzaruddin Nordin (two gold medals) in the Rings and Floor exercise, taekwondoist Bryan Jr Kinsdon (welterweight), swimmers Chris Tan and Padereswki Awang Pan (200m butterfly).
A few disciplines like karate, track and field, pencak silat, volleyball, badminton, and shooting failed to deliver any gold medal.
Even though Sabah failed to achieve its 31-gold medal target, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Peter Pang En Yin and Chef-de-Mission Datuk Suzannah Liaw believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel, especially for those athletes who have shown potential to win silver medals or bronze medals.
These silver medallists and bronze medallists if nurtured and groomed systematiclly in this high tech era, would one day be a force to be reckoned with if sports association officials take their queues from here and begin their long-term preparations for the next Sukma.