Nicole delivers sailing gold
KUANTAN: The Sabah sailing team won Sabah’s 4th gold medal in the waters off Balok beach some 20km from Kuantan town.
Sixteen-year-old Penampang lass Nicole Chan from KK High School shrugged of nerves of the first two days of racing and benefiting from the encouraging visit of Datuk Suzannah Liaw won a record breaking string of eight first placings out of 12 races to be the clear gold winner in the 4.7 Laser fleet for girls.
Her score was so good she need not have taken part in the last race and still kept her gold but in true competitive spirit she took to the water and scored another first.
Coach Ahmad Yusof said that the gap between her and the second boat was so great it made her a class above the rest despite her handicap of a lighter weight in the strong breezes.
Nurul Izzatul Nicole’s nemesis was seconds ahead of Nur Afiqah (Pahang).
Rufina Tan, Malaysia’s Doha gold medallist returned to sailing just four months ago after several years in college but now sailing the more powerful Laser radial won a bronze medal.
She struggled in the strong winds particularly against national sailors on the Olympic trail for the past few years losing to Kharuneeta Bt Mohd Afendy (Kedah) and Nur Amirah Bte Hamid (Perak).
Again benefiting from Datuk Suzannah’s visit, she won the last three races in first place giving notice of her superior talent especially when the wind became light, shifty and unpredictable.
At the close of the 5th day of competition Sabah’s Tshung Tshin girl Connie Tsen was fighting for a silver medal in the Optimist girls’ class.
Assistant Coach Christopher Chin said that Sabah’s long term handicap in sailing is the lack of a sailing centre which severely hampered the recruitment of sailors to build up a competitive fleet.
The prized beach lands off KK City are off limits to Sabah Sailing Association which is in all respects a dedicated sailing promoter and not a rich developer.
Sabah remains the only sailing state without a Centre.
The Sabah team trains off Kinabalu Yacht Club, a private members club which has a sports partnership arrangement with Sabah Sailing Association to allow a limited number of non members’ children to enter its premises for sailing.
In fact Sabah sailing’s single gold from a mere handful of sailors is itself a huge credit to the coaching skills of ex national sailing Coach Tuan Haji Ahmad Yusof with his back-up logistics team led by team manager Shoon and several parents.
Sabah has been in Kuantan for the last three weeks, which pales in comparison with Terengganu who set up a training camp two months ago. Sabah Sailing Association has never failed to bring in medals at Sukma since 2002.
|New Sabah Times|