Nau stopping him!

HE did it in 2013 and 2015 — yesterday was no different, Nauraj Singh Randhawa picked up the high jump gold medal at KL2017 as he equalled the Games record of 2.24m.

The 25-year-old from Johor was not in his best form — only managing a height equalled by silver medallist Lee Hup Wei — but said he could have not asked for a better way to end the season.

“The gold medal is a perfect way to complete my year. I’m glad that I’ve contributed to the medal tally.

“I never expected this number of people to make their way here. The crowd was unbelievable. The cheering they gave me when I was trying the 2.28-metre leap gave me goosebumps. Thank you,” he said.

Besides the fans, Nauraj — who holds the national record of 2.30m — has another person to thank for his gold medal.

“Lee Hup Wei was in great form from start to finish. No one expected such a performance from him, but he was another reason why I won the gold medal.

“He psyched me up before all my attempts, and that’s how an experienced athlete can help you. I believe he has a lot left in his tank.

“I’m only young while he has got a lot of experience worldwide. He knows what to do at the right time,” he said.

The duo both cleared 2.24m at the National Stadium yesterday, but the 25-year-old was awarded the gold on countback.

They equalled the Games record set by countryman Loo Kum Zee in the 1995 SEA Games in Thailand.

“My coach Alex Stewart know what’s best. After clearing 2.24, he told me to have a go at 2.28 right away.

Nauraj however admitted he does not have much to brag about despite a victory.

“I could have jumped higher, but I always have next year to try again.

“The World Championships in London taught me a lot — and I will use the remaining of the year to watch my performances and improve on my weaknesses,” he said.

The Johor-born athlete failed to qualify for the final in London after managing only 2.26m in the qualifying round at London Stadium earlier this month.


Football’s newest hero N. Thanabalan certainly knows how to use his head.

> Four goals at KL2017.
> Two headers.
> One step from SEA Games glory.


His goal gave Malaysia 1-0 win over bitter rival Indonesia in the football semifinal yesterday.
Young Tigers now face Thailand, who edged Myanmar 1-0 in other semifinal, in final on Tuesday.


>> See page 39

Here is the 20-year-old’s gruelling schedule:

Day 1: 100m backstroke
Gold (GR)

Day 1: 200m butterfly

Day 2: 200m backstroke
Gold (GR)

Day 2: 400m freestyle

Day 3: 100m freestyle

Day 3: 50m butterfly

Day 4: 200m individual medley

Day 4: 800m freestyle

Day 5: 400m individual medley

Day 5: 50m backstroke

Day 5: 200m breastroke
Day 6: 200m freestyle


Gabriel aims to be next Bryan

HAVING clinched a gold in his first SEA Games, Gabriel Gilbert Daim wants more — to be the next “Bryan Nickson Lomas” of Malaysia.

“My interest is the 3m springboard and Bryan was the star diver and specialist in this event. He’s the bomb!

“Bryan is my idol and I want to be like him.

“There has been no ‘Bryan’ since he left, so I want to fill that missing piece,” said the Sabahan.

Gabriel partnered with Pandelela Rinong to take gold in the mixed team event yesterday.

They placed first with a total score of 345.40 while Singapore’s Lim Shen Yan-Jonathan Chan (335.55), took the silver. Thailand, Surincha Booranapol-Theerapat Siribon scored 243.90 for a bronze.

Bryan, now 27, became the youngest Malaysian athlete to qualify for an Olympics when he was 14 during the 2004 Athens Games.

He also became the country’s first world junior diving champion after winning gold at the men’s 3m springboard event in the World Junior Championships in Brazil that same year.

Gabriel, 16, has never had a chance to dive in individual events at any of the multigames or internationals, but he is setting his sights on a gold in the men’s 3m springboard in next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

This is the first time the team event was contested in the SEA Games.

“I was delighted to be trusted by coach (Yang Zhuliang) and paired with Pandelela,” said Gabriel.

“This is my only event at KL2017. The gold will be a stepping stone for me to be better and achieve my dream to be
like Bryan.

“As a rookie, being on the podium on home turf is beyond words.

“The special part is my whole family came to cheer for me,” said Gabriel, who started diving at age 10 before he joined the Malaysian team at 13.

Gilbert previously partnered Nur Dhabitah Sabri, in the Asian Diving Cup in Macau in June to win a silver in the mixed 3m springboard synchro.

Meanwhile, Pandelela had nothing but praise for her young compatriot, saying he was able to overcome his nerves and they made a good team, despite having only trained together less than a month ago.

“Gabriel made a successful debut in the Game, I am very happy for him,” said Pandelela, who will be competing in the 10m individual platform today.


Sweet victories on home turf

“THIS is for you grandma,” said Malaysian diver and Olympian Wendy Ng Yan Yee, who clinched her maiden SEA Games individual title on home turf when she took gold in her pet event, the women’s 3m springboard individual event yesterday.

The 24-year-old admitted she waited 10 years for the precious individual gold moment.

“Finally, I’ve made it and the feeling is spectacular, awesome and amazing as I notched it on home turf!

“This year has been mostly down for me as I struggled with back and shoulder injuries the last two years. I almost gave up.

“I need to take painkillers all the time! Despite the difficulties, I won gold. This is for my grandma who can’t make it today as she is not well,” said a happy Wendy.

Wendy collected 342.90 points while Malaysia’s rising star Nur Dhabitah Sabri took silver (311.25) for the 1-2 finish.

Singapore’s Ashlee Tan scored a total of 233.60 for bronze.

Wendy’s wheelchair-bound grandmother, Eu Chow, 85, has always been her strongest supporter.

For the record, Wendy, who competed in the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, has never won the women’s 3m springboard individual in any of the SEA Games she has participated in — Indonesia (2011), Myanmar (2013) and Singapore (2015).

She has won four gold medals in the Games springboard synchro event — with Leong Mun Yee in 2009 and 2011; Cheong Jun Hoong in 2013; and Dhabitah in 2015.

The University Malaya student, who made her debut in the 2009 Laos Games, said she is targeting another gold in the women’s 3m synchronised springboard with Dhabitah on Tuesday.

“I will compete in the women’s 1m springboard but my main aim is to defend our title in the women’s 3m synchronised springboard with Bitah on Tuesday. We can do this,” she said.

Meanwhile, in the men’s 3m springboard, Ooi Tze Liang scored a historic gold hattrick — after winning in Naypyidaw (2013) and Singapore (2015).

Tze Liang, 23, from Penang, took gold with a total of 458.00 while his compatriot Ahmad Amsyar Azman scored 432.25 points to win silver.

The bronze medal went to Singapore’s Timothy Lee who scored 386.35 points.

“I was under tremendous pressure before the dive but I’m glad I managed it well and did my best.

“Competing on home turf certainly helped as well, I’m grateful for the overwhelming support from fellow Malaysians.

Tze Liang is aiming for gold in two events tomorrow — the men’s 10m individual and 1m individual.

Meanwhile, Dhabitah admitted she blacked out before competing in the women’s 3m springboard, yesterday.

The 18-year-old said she made a mistake during her training a day before the event.

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