Asian Games 2023: Monumental moments from Malaysian athletes
Bringing home the wins
In case you’ve been out of the loop, the Asian Games 2023—also known as Asiad—was held from the 23 September to 8 October 2023. Asiad is one of the most anticipated sports events in the region and the Malaysian team has had a good run at this year’s games. Our contingent had set a target of 27 medals, and yet they surpassed that mark and are taking home a total of 36 medals—six gold, eight silver, and 18 bronze medals! If you’d like to get up to speed with everything that has happened, here are a few key moments for the Malaysian contingent at this year’s games.
SHEREEN SAMSON VALLABUOY BREAKS A 17-YEAR DROUGHT
It’s been a long time coming—Malaysian sprinter Shereen Samson Vallabuoy made history with her win in the women’s 400m category. After 17 years, Malaysia has finally won a medal in athletics at the Asian Games; the last win being Noraseela Khalid, our national hurdler, who won the bronze in 2006.
Shereen finished the race with a time of 52.58 seconds behind Bahrain’s Mujidat Adekonya and Salwa Eid Naser, who finished with a time of 50.66 seconds and 50.92 seconds, respectively.
The 25-year-old told The Star that the win is a memorable one for her as she’s following the footsteps of both her parents, “It feels amazing to come to this stage and earn a podium after all the hard work. My mother and father were national athletes. It’s such an amazing feeling to follow in their footsteps and make them proud.”
Adding to the tally is the women’s athletics team—consisting of Azreen Nabila binti Alias, Zaidatul Husniah binti Zulkifli, Nur Afrina Batrisyia, Shereen Samson Vallabouy—which bagged the bronze medal for the women’s 4 x 100m relay event.
OUR NATIONAL SQUASH TEAM REELS IN THE GOLD
There’s no denying that our squash team is one of the strongest in the world, and they continue to shine in the post-Nicol David era. This time at Asiad, the Malaysian squash team is on a roll! On 5 October, Sivasangari Subramaniam and Ng Eain Yow added to our medal tally with their first place finish in the women’s and men’s squash singles categories, respectively.
Further adding to the glory are the wins from the team events. Aira binti Azman, Rachel Mae Arnold, Aifa binti Azman, and Sivasangari Subramaniam from the women’s team took home the gold medal; while Muhammad Addeen Idrakie bin Bahtiar, Muhammad Syafiq bin Mohd Kamal, Ng Eain Yow, and Yuen Chee Wern from the men’s team won third place.
A STRONG START FOR ESPORTS
After being held as a demo-sport at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games, this year marks the first time the esports category is played at Asiad. The Malaysian team was projected to take home the wins, alongside the China team.
Malaysia’s first medal for esports came from the Arena of Valor team—consisting of Lai Chai Chein, Nicholas Ng, Yong Zhang Quan, Ong Jun Yang, Eng Jun How, and Chong Han Hui—which bagged the silver medal.
The Malaysian Dota 2 squad also won the bronze medal for the category. However, the team—comprising Yap Jian Wei, Ng Wei Poong, Cheng Jin Xiang, Chan Kok Hong, Thiay Jun Wen, and Tue Soon Chun—still hasn’t gotten over missing out on the gold medal due to technical difficulties.
Their Coach Cai Yifeng said, “It’s not the result that we wanted. We wanted the gold but we have to accept the fact that for now, the bronze is all that we can give to Malaysia. I promise one day we will win that gold.”
THE FIRST GOLD FOR MALAYSIAN EQUESTRIAN
Another one for the books is Mohd Qabil Ambak Mahamad Fathil’s historical first gold for Malaysia in Asiad’s equestrian event. The veteran equestrian won the medal for Individual Dressage and has an impeccable track record—having previously won silver at the 2018 Asian Games and two bronze medals at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
THE DIVING TEAM’S CONSISTENT WINS
Our Malaysian diving team has also been performing consistently well at the 2023 Asian Games and brought home five medals in total.
Pandelela Rinong Pamg kicked things off with a bronze medal in the women’s 10m platform event. Then, Nur Dhabitah Sabri and Pandelela placed third in the women’s synchronised 10m platform event; followed by Ng Yan Yee and Dhabitah’s silver medal win for the women’s 3m synchronised springboard event.
Meanwhile, the men’s team took home two bronze medals—the first from Muhammad Syafiq bin Putah and Ooi Tze Liang’s win in the men’s synchronised 3m springboard and the second from Bertrand Rhodict Anak Lises and Enrique Maccartney Anak Harold’s effort in the men’s synchronised 10m platform.
SHARUL AIMY MAKES HISTORY FOR ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
Yet another historic win after 17 years is Malaysia’s medal in artistic gymnastics. Mohd Sharul Aimy won the bronze medal in the men’s vault event with a score of 14.466; placing behind gold medallist Wataru Tanigawa of Japan, and silver medallist Mahdi Olfati of Iran who scored 15.016 and 14.783 points, respectively. The last Malaysian to win a medal in artistic gymnastics was Ng Shu Wai, who placed second in the 2006 Doha games.
A SILVER WIN FOR WUSHU
The first silver medal for Malaysia at the 2023 Asiad came from wushu exponent Tan Cheong Min. The 25-year-old placed second in the women’s nanquan and nandao event. Not only that, Cheong Min’s win ended the Malaysian team’s 13-year wait for a medal, after Chai Fong Yin won a gold medal in the taijiquan and taijijian event at the 2010 Guangzhou games.
MOHD ARIF AFIFUDDIN MALIK ENDS THE GOLD DROUGHT FOR KARATE
Although it’s his first Asiad, Mohd Arif Afifuddin Malik has started off strong by winning the gold medal for karate. The 23-year-old won the men’s kumite below 84 kg category by beating his Kazakhstan opponent, Daniyar Yuldashev. Arif is also the first Malaysian to reach a kumite final at Asiad since the 2014 Incheon games. This ultimately ended Malaysia’s nine-year karate gold drought at the Asiad; the last being Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan, who won the women’s below 61 kg final in 2014.
However, this medal isn’t the only one for the karate team. Anne Robberth Lovelly won silver for women’s individual kata, whereas the women’s team—consisting of Lovelly, Naccy Nelly Evvaferra binti Rojin, and Niathalia Sherawinnie Anak Yampil—won the silver medal for the women’s team kata.
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