Monday 5 August 2002

Bowls: Malaysian's amazing rise

By Jon Woods

Roughly translated, "Malaysia Boleh!" the popular cry during the Commonwealth Games at Kuala Lumpur four years ago, means "Malaysia Can!"

This was borne out as Siti Zalina Ahmad, who is only 23, beat England's Jean Baker, New Zealand's Marlene Castle and Australia's Karen Murphy on her way to the gold medal in the women's singles.

It is a remarkable story: lawn bowls was unknown in Malaysia until around eight years ago, when it was introduced in all 14 provinces in preparation for the 1998 Games.

Coached by leading Australian coaches, raw novices have become champions and Siti Zalina's gold is the result of faith, funding, inspired management and bags of application.

Tuesday, August 06 2002

Commonwealth Games: Golden harvest for Malaysia in Manchester

The NST Sports Team

MANCHESTER, Aug 5: MALAYSIA ended its Commonwealth Games campaign with a flourish, exceeding its four-gold medal target with a haul of seven gold, nine silver and 18 bronze medals in Manchester, England, yesterday.
It was the nation's best-ever haul outside the country, close to Malaysia's record of 10 gold, 14 silver and 12 bronze medals achieved in the last edition four years ago in Kuala Lumpur.
What made the achievement more memorable was the fact that this was the first time Malaysia had won a gold medal from a sport other than badminton or weightlifting away from home.
The surprise gold came from plucky lawn bowler Siti Zalina Ahmad who displayed nerves of steel to defeat Karen Murphy of Australia 2119 in the women's singles final yesterday.
If Siti served a surprise, so did the women's badminton pair of Ang Li Peng-Lim Pek Siah who came from behind to beat New Zealand's Nicole Gordon-Sara Petersen 7-8, 7-4, 2-7, 75, 7-0 for the gold.
Malaysia's second badminton gold of the night came from 20-year-old Hafiz Hashim who beat compatriot Lee Tsuen Seng 7-3, 7-1, 3-7, 7-8, 7-4 in the men's singles final.
The third badminton gold came in the all-Malaysian doubles final with top seeds Chew Choon Eng and Chan Chong Ming beating Choong Tan Fook and Chang Kim Wai 7-5, 4-7, 27, 7-5, 7-3.

AUG 6, 2002 TUE

Malaysia's Lim nearly beats Thorpe to the silver

By Tay Cheng Khoon

Standing tall with the giants, Malaysia's Lim (right) loses out narrowly to second-placed international star Thorpe (left) and world champion Welsh. --AP
ASIAN backstroke champion Alex Lim nearly upstaged Australia's star Ian Thorpe in the 100m backstroke - a performance that had the 2,800 spectators at the Manchester Aquatics Centre screaming for the underdog.
The Malaysian, who is on a scholarship at the University of Florida, gave his country its second Commonwealth Games swimming medal with a superb effort of 55.44 seconds.
He had won its first when he claimed a silver in the 50m backstroke earlier - in a new national mark for the man who won the 1998 Bangkok Asiad event.
Yesterday's event saw world champion Matt Welsh win in a Commonwealth Games record time of 54.72 and it took a last-gasp surge from the talented multi-medallist Thorpe to prevent Lim from winning his second silver.
The Sabah-born Lim put his loss down to a lack of confidence.
'If only I had more confidence in myself,' lamented the 22-year-old.
'My coaches told me that I was ready to swim with the best but I couldn't believe them. I guess if I had that bit more self-confidence, I could have pushed myself towards the end.'
But he found consolation in the two medals he won at these Games.
'To be honest, I did not expect to win any medals here so the two I've got are bonuses,' he said.
'It is great to win medals. I do not have the pressure and it's a great opportunity to race against the world's best.
'With the achievement, it shows that I'm able to match other top swimmers and I'm confident I can reach greater heights.'
He added that his next target was to make another great achievement at the Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, next month.