Sailing squad contributes gold at Asian Games on Merdeka Day

JAKARTA: The 61st National Day celebration today was very meaningful to the national sailing squad as they collected a gold, a silver and three bronze medals in the event at the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games here today.

Junior sailor Muhammad Fauzi Kaman Shah, 16, gifted Malaysia its sixth gold medal after winning the Open Laser 4.7 event by collecting 20 penalty points at the Indonesian National Sailing Centre.

The silver and bronze medals in the event went to China’s Wang Jianxiong (42 penalty points) and India’s woman sailor Tomar Harshita, with 62 penalty points.

Fauzi became the youngest medal contributor to the national contingent with his win.

“I did not expect to get the gold medal because today’s challenge was very stiff, and I had only recently changed events from the Optimist to Open Laser 4.7.

“I think this is the best gift I can give to our country in conjunction with the National Day today.

Fauzi said he planned to bring his parents to perform the umrah with the prize money he will receive under the National Sports Incentive Scheme (Shakam), based on today’s achievement.

Under the scheme, athletes who win the gold in the Asian Games will receive RM80,000 in cash, while for silver it is RM40,000 and RM20,000 for bronze.

“In addition, I also plan to buy new equipment for my boat, and the rest is up to my parents,” said the Kedah native.

Another national representative in the event, Nor Nabila Natasha Mohd Nazri, finished 12th out of 23 participants with 111 penalty points.

National Olympic sailor Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy, who is the country’s first athlete to book a slot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, settled for silver in the Laser Standard event with 23 penalty points.

He had finished with the same number of points as Singapore’s Ryan Lo Jun Han, but the jury awarded the silver to Khairulnizam after a recount.

The gold medal went to defending champion Ha Jee-min from South Korea, with 21.8 penalty points.

The squad also contributed three bronze medals, through Nur Shazrin Mohamad Latif in the Laser Radial event (36 penalty points); Nuraisyah Jamil and Norashikin Mohamad Sayed in the women’s 470 event (37 penalty points), and Illham Wahab and Nuur Fatin Solehah Abdul Rahman in the mixed RS One event (103 penalty points).

Today’s success for Nur Shazrin means she too will be heading for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Laser Radial gold was won by Japanese sailor Doi Manami with 13 penalty points, while silver went to Chinese athlete Zhang Dongshuang, who collected 36 penalty points.

Japanese duo Ai Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka won the gold in the women’s 470 event with 12 penalty points while Singapore’s Elisa Yukie Yokoyama and Cheryl Teo were forced to settle for silver after collecting 21 penalty points from 12 rounds.

The RS One event was won by China’s Chen Hao and Tan Yue, who collected 36 penalty points, while Hong Kong’s Kikabhoy Rafeek and Ma Kwan Ching won the silver medal with 59 penalty points.

Meanwhile, Khairulnizam, when met by the Malaysian media said he was proud of winning the silver medal for the second time in a row since the 2014 edition in South Korea.

“Today’s competition was stiff as the South Korean sailor gave a tough fight. On the second mark, my boat overturned and I could not catch up with the South Korean sailor, and I admit it was my mistake, but I am determined to improve my performance on the next tournament,” said the Kedah-born athlete.

Meanwhile, Nur Shazrin said she was delighted to have won the bronze medal in her debut at the Asian Games.

“I am happy and grateful to be able to win a medal in my first Asian Games and qualify for the Olympics, and would like to thank the National Sports Council, National Sports Institute, coaches and all those who helped me prepare for the Asian Games this time,” said the athlete from Pahang.