We all know about our world champion-level players in fields like badminton and squash. Lee Chong Wei and Nicol David are household names and we celebrate their triumphs and achievements with great pride.
The movie Ola Bola last year also helped to bring our attention back to our football team (and hopefully revive it to its former glory), but did you know that there are other sports where Malaysians are excelling? Here are some athletes and teams that have done us proud, taking Malaysia all the way to the world stage and showing everyone that we can stand and compete with the best.
Honestly, I always saw dodgeball as something that only happens in American shows or movies, for the bullying scenes where the hapless main character has dozens of balls thrown at him as he cowers wretchedly on the court.
Therefore I was really surprised to see the news that just a few days ago, the Malaysian women’s team beat Canada and took the gold at the finals of the Dodgeball World Championships 2016 in Australia. Our men’s team didn’t fare badly either, bagging a cool silver medal.
In a statement on the official Facebook page, the champions left this message, “Thank you Malaysia. Thank you to everyone who supported us. Thank you to the players who showed relentlessness. Thank you Malaysian Association of Dodgeball (MAD) for bringing Malaysian dodgeball to where it is now.”
The Malaysian wushu team has slowly been making a name for themselves, and some people to look out for include Diana Bong, Tan Cheong Min, Wong Weng Son and Loh Jack Chang.
Diana Bong might be a more familiar name to some, having been part of the national team since 2004. Even though she’s just turned 31 this year, she remains active, “You’ll be seeing me around as I have promised my coach that I’ll continue until the next Asian Games in Indonesia in 2018,” she said in an interview last year.
Just recently, Cheong Min scored a gold in the girls’ Group A (16-18) nanquan (barehands southern style) event at the World Junior Championships in Burgas, Bulgaria. Earlier this year, Weng Son also won a gold at the jianshu (double-edged sword) event on the final day of the Asian Wushu Championships in Taoyuan, Taiwan.
With so many talents on our team, these wushu exponents are showing the world how Malaysia can perform on par and even better than others on the world stage.
At the age of 14, Muizzuddin Musyaffa Abdul Gafar is one of the younger athletes on this list, but his achievements are no small feat.
He shot to fame at the age of 12 when he emerged as the overall champion for World Series Karting (WSK) Champions Cup in the 60 Mini class in Italy that year. Having started kart-racing from the time he was 8 years old, one of Muizz’s biggest achievements to date is becoming Malaysia’s first ever podium winner at the CIK-FIA European Karting Championship, placing third in Portimao, Portugal.
Early this month, Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan became the first ever Malaysian to hold the number 1 ranking for the World Karate Federation (WKF) Karate 1 Premier League Series women’s kumite below 55kg category. Her stellar performance with 4 successive podium finishes helped her to climb to the top.
She’s not the only Malaysian doing well in the field. Shree Sharmini Segaran finished the season with 880 points and ranked eighth in the Premier League Series ranking.
Syakilla will be participating in the World Karate Championships in Linz, Austria, from Oct 25-30, and if she bags the gold, she will be making history as the very first Malaysian to do so.
Another history-maker, Khairul Idham Pawi is the first Malaysian to win the MotoGP World Championship, taking the first place at the Moto3 race at the Argentina Motorcycle Grand Prix in April this year.
Known as a wet-weather specialist, Khairul is grateful to the people who have helped him all this time. He scored his second career win in Germany just over a week ago, dedicating his win to his team and family. “Many thanks to my team who are always working hard for me. Many thanks to everyone who has supported me and I hope my family and my friends enjoyed watching!” said Khairul.
6. Dota 2
In August, an e-sports team made Malaysian headlines when they reached 4th place in a Dota 2 tournament held in Seattle, USA. This win bagged the gaming team, Fnatic, RM5.6mil of prize money. They didn’t get the first prize, but their achievements are impressive enough as it is.
At that time, the team consisted of four Malaysians: Chai Yee Fung (Mushi), Yeik Zheng Nai (MidOne), Khoo Chong Xin (Ohaiyo) & Adam Erwann Shah (343), and one player from the Philippines, Djardel Jicko Mampusti (DJ).
One of the team members, Ohaiyo, spoke to the press about the life as a pro-gamer. “Most of the pros have to sacrifice their personal life to train, which takes up more than 10 hours a day,” he said. He added that the gruelling schedule makes it very difficult to spend time with family and friends.
7. Off-Road Motorsports
In what is described as India’s toughest off-road motorsport event, the Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge, Malaysian driver Tan Eng Joo (co-driver Tan Choon Hong), representing Force Motors, won 2 years in a row.
This year, two teams of Malaysians participated and they secured the second and third spots, with Malaysian driver Merwyn Lim (co-driver Hamizan Bin Abdul Hamid) of Force Motors earning 2166 points while Tan Eng Joo’s team had a total of 2111 points.
All these athletes have worked very hard to be where they are, and definitely deserve more recognition for their contributions. We hope to see even more stellar performances from them in the future.
Did we miss out other unexpected sports where Malaysians rose to the challenge and excelled on a world stage? Do let us know in the comments.
Feature image compiled from The Star, MUIZZ “IRON MAN” Facebook, Berita Harian, Dodgeball Malaysia Facebook, newsdog.today and gpmalaysia.com.