Saturday, August 09, 2003

Rousing welcome for English Channel conqueror


Malik, flanked by Dr Mahathir and Abdullah, waving to the crowd at the KLIA on his return from London Friday.
SEPANG: Marathon swimmer Abdul Malik Mydin arrived home to a rousing welcome at the KL International Airport yesterday after his historic feat to become the first Malaysian to swim the English Channel.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his deputy Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were among 1,000 well-wishers to welcome and congratulate Abdul Malik, who arrived on a Malaysian Airlines flight from London.
Others who turned up to greet him included Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, his deputy Datuk Ong Tee Keat, and sailor Datuk Azhar Mansur, who accomplished a solo maritime circumnavigation of the world in 1999.
Abdul Malik, 28, also became the first South-East Asian to cross the 32.8km-wide waterway that separates England and France, completing his swim in 17 hours and 42 minutes on Aug 4.
The crowd burst out in cheers of “Hidup Malik” and “Malaysia Boleh” as he gave a speech to thank Malaysians for their prayers and support to help him achieve his dream.
They also belted out the Jalur Gemilang song at the welcoming reception, which also included speeches from the leaders and an exchange of souvenirs.
The crowd also held banners, proclaiming Abdul Malik Wira Negara (Abdul Malik National Hero), Syabas Malik (Congratulations Malik) and Selat Inggeris Telah Ditakluk (English Channel Conquered).
Earlier, the channel conqueror was greeted by his family at the airport’s VIP room.
Dr Mahathir gave Abdul Malik a silver keris while the swimmer returned the gesture with a portrait of him posing with the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister also extended his personal congratulations to Abdul Malik for bringing pride to the country.
Dr Mahathir, who had given his support for the record-breaking attempt over the past three years, said in his speech that Malaysians could stand tall because of Abdul Malik’s success.
“We can be proud of his achievement because of his ability and spirit. We can do anything. He will be an example for all of us.
“The younger generation must instil discipline, perseverance and patience in trying to achieve whatever they aspire for,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysians need to be bolder in facing new challenges, such as becoming the country’s first astronaut.
Abdul Malik told the crowd: “The last 5km took me five hours. I had no energy left but your prayers kept me going.”
He said his endeavour taught him to be patient, adding that sincerity was the key to a person’s success.

Monday, August 04 2003

Malik completes historic Channel swim

By Zaharah Othman

GOOD LUCK: Malik waving to well-wishers as he begins his swim. - NST picture by Rosli Ahmad
DOVER, Aug 3: MARATHON swimmer Abdul Malik Mydin reached the shore of Cap Gris Nez in Calais, France, last night to become the first Malaysian to swim across the English Channel.
He arrived at 8.42pm French time (7.42pm British time, 2.42am today Malaysian time), completing the feat in just under 18 hours.
Malik could have made it hours earlier if not for the very windy weather during the last few kilometres of his swim.
About 50 Malaysian well-wishers who were waiting at the finish line greeted him.
Earlier, strong winds had slowed down Malik's progress along the home stretch, but journalists following him in two other boats reported that the swimmer was coping well.
Malik started his feat at Abbots Beach in Dover at 2.02am local time (9.02am Malaysian time), stopping for feeds at 20-minute intervals, with his strokes at a consistent pace. Malik had spent the day before the swim relaxing in preparation for the marathon swim which will take him 32.8km across from Dover to Cap Gris Nez.
He emerged with his coach and supporters half-an-hour past midnight to make the short walk from the hotel where he was staying to the marina, where he boarded a boat that took him to Abbots Beach. Malik was greeted by supporters who had started to arrive from London, and a procession of well-wishers and journalists soon formed behind him.
The group of well-wishers, including staff of the Malaysian Students Department in London and their families and journalists nearly missed the important occasion when they were stopped from going down the cliff to the narrow stretch of pebbled beach where Malik was to take the plunge but were later allowed to proceed.
Earlier, Malik was expected to be flagged off at Shakespeare Beach, but at the last minute, navigator Mike Oram felt it was better for him to leave from Abbots Beach.
A few metres from the beach, Malik jumped from his boat and swam ashore and waited for instructions from his coach, John van Wisse.
At 2.02am local time, Malik started his marathon swim accompanied by shouts of Malaysia Boleh and "Go, Malik, Go," breaking the eerie silence of the early morning hours.
"It is really an honour for us to be here and to witness this historic moment. It shows that Malik Boleh and Malaysia Boleh," said Datuk Kamaruddin Mohd Nor, the Malaysian Students Department director who brought his family along.
Datuk Ab Ghani Ariffin, district officer of Seberang Prai Utara, who was on a business trip, stayed behind to offer his support.
Also present was Alison Streeter, known as Queen of the Channel for her 41 attempts across the Channel. Streeter, also Malik's coach and consultant, said once Malik was in the water, all fear and anxieties would disappear and the swimmer would be very focused on his target.
In Putrajaya, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad last night expressed his pride over the abilities and determination of Malaysians as shown by Malik and shuttler Wong Choong Hann.

Earlier reports

Rough seas delay channel attempt

Friday, July 25, 2003

LONDON: Rough seas yesterday again delayed Abdul Malik Mydin’s attempt to swim across the English Channel and the forecast for today is also unsettled weather.
Malik, who had planned to begin his swim yesterday morning, is now expected to take his biggest plunge to-date early tomorrow morning when weather conditions are forecast as more ideal.
Datuk Talaat Mansur, deputy secretary-general of the Youth and Sports Ministry, said from Dover that Malik was continuing his training off Shakespeare Beach, the traditional spot for cross-channel attempts.
“We receive 12-hourly weather reports on the English Channel where conditions can change rapidly. So we have to make sure everything is right,” he said.
When Malik begins his swim, some 50 Malaysians, including his group of 14 supporters from home, will be on hand to wish him well while another group based in France will be waiting in Calais to welcome him.

Malik's Swim Wednesday Called Off

Abdul Malik Mydin with supporters and staff of Malaysia Hall as well as the Deputy Minister of Defence Datuk Shafie Afdal. - Berita Harian picture.
DOVER (London), July 22 (Bernama) -- Abdul Malik Mydin's swim to cross the English Channel on Wednesday has been called off due to bad weather.
The adverse weather is expected to continue in the next 24 hours, causing strong current and waves as high as two metres.
"This is dangerous and the experts from the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CSPF) has advised us not to take the risk.
"For the next 24 hours, the winds will be blowing at 20 nautical miles per hour which will cause big waves," said coach John Van Wisse here Tuesday.
He said that due to the weather condition, Wednesday's swim was definitely off, leaving the next possibility either on Thursday or Friday.
Wisse said CSPF navigator and piloting expert Michael Oram kept him informed of the weather conditions from time to time because he wanted to make sure that it would be safe for the swim.
If the adverse weather situation continued, he said the swim might be put on hold until July 30 or to wait for Aug 5 when the condition was expected to be favourable.
"The strong current and big waves are bad and it is a big affect on swimmers," he said.
He said they had to respect the advice of the SDPF, an expert on the sea conditions in the channel.
"Oram has all the information on the weather and he is the professional navigator and weather expert. What he wants to do is to ensure that the weather is suitable for Malik and he wants Malik to reach Calais without any problem and to ensure that he achieves the best time possible," he said.
For the past two weeks, only six swimmers swam across the channel and due to the bad weather they made poor time, reaching Calais in 20 hours.
Meanwhile, Malik said that he hoped that the weather would be back to normal on Friday.
"Personally I'm a little bit sad about the postponement," he said.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Malik: Channel in 18 hours


LANGKAWI: Marathon swimmer Abdul Malik Mydin has set a target of 18 hours to swim across the 32.8km English Channel in July or August.
SET FOR NEW CHALLENGE: Abdul Malik (centre) with Van Wisse (right) and Frieda Streeter, an observer from the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation, in Langkawi Monday.

The 28-year-old businessman, who took just 14 hours to swim 48km from Kuala Perlis to Kuah here last weekend, said he was 80% prepared for the attempt, which would be the first by a Malaysian.
“The fastest swim across the channel was about 10 hours and the longest was 42 hours. I hope to make it in 18 hours.
“The main challenge will be the cold water, jellyfish, current and big waves,” he said in an interview here yesterday.
He said he would be going to Australia in two weeks to resume his training for the channel swim, which has been slated for the last week of July or first week of August.
“The purpose is to acclimatise my body to the cold water. I will be swimming daily, either for two hours at Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne where the water temperature is now 6°C to 8°C, or up to five hours at other spots with 16°C to 18°C waters,” Abdul Malik added.
He said the temperature at the English Channel would be between 14°C and 18°C.
He would be making the crossing from Dover in England to Cap Gris Nez in Calais, France.
Abdul Malik said he would just be wearing normal swimming trunks for his training, just like he did for the Kuala Perlis-Langkawi swim, as that would be his attire for the English Channel crossing because wetsuits were disallowed.
Past successes by Abdul Malik include emerging fifth among 22 international swimmers in a 26km race across Lake Zurich in Switzerland in August last year.
He had also swum between Penang and the mainland a few times, covering distances of 7.8km to 12km, and 18km from Pulau Besar to Mersing in Johor.
His Australian coach, John van Wisse, said Abdul Malik’s performance in the Kuala Perlis-Langkawi swim was incredible.
He said the swimmer had been training very well and had a good chance of completing the English Channel crossing.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the patron for the swim, which is billed as the English Channel Challenge 2003.
If he succeeds, Penang-born Abdul Malik will be among only about 600 people from around the world to swim across the channel since 127 years ago.
About 7,000 others had failed in their attempts, while a European swimmer died while trying to do so in 2001.