12 Aug 2016

Top 8 Young Athletes to Look Out for at the Rio Olympics 2016

More than 11,000 athletes spanning across 200 countries are set to wrestle contend at the long awaited Rio Olympics 2016. As always, there will be a few mega stars – Usain Bolt, Serena Williams, Simone Biles – who will make a comeback for yet another bid at the gold.

Of course, closer to home, everybody is eager to watch our home-grown pride, Datuk Lee Chong Wei as he attempts to cement a place in history at his fourth Olympic appearance. But who are the up-and-coming young athletes who could step into the shoes of their idols on the biggest podium of all?

We have put together a list of the young guns that you ought to look out for as they gear up in a do-or-die mission to reap Malaysia’s greatest glory in sport!

#1. Welson Sim (Swimming)

Article Visuals - Malaysian Olympics Rio 2016-01

Our very own Michael Phelps, the gifted Welson Sim surely has a knack for gliding through the water. The 19-year old recently soared as the first Malaysian male swimmer to make the grade for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Within the men’s 13 and over 400m freestyle event at the Singapore National Age Group Championships, he made the cut by clocking 3:50.33s to slide under the FINA automatic-qualifying mark.

But it doesn’t stop there! Our lad also went on to claim a FINA (International Swimming Federation) “A” cut in the 200m freestyle as well. Bagging away the gold medal in a time of 1:47.67s, Welson’s mark now weighs in as the new Malaysian national record after outshining the previous time of 1:49.21 held by Daniel Bego since 2013.

The payoff:

Men’s 400m freestyle (Heats) – Rank: 34
Men’s 200m freestyle (Heats) – Rank: 26

When to catch him in action:

12 August 2016 (Saturday) – 12.40AM – Men’s 1500m freestyle (Heats)

#2. Nur Dhabitah Sabri (Diving)

Article Visuals - Malaysian Olympics Rio 2016-03

At only 17-years-old, Dhabita – our youngest female athlete to stand in for Malaysia at the Rio Olympics – is the epitome of kecil-kecil cili padi. Despite her tender age, the ultra-versatile diver has already been granted a spot in the Podium Programme (read: a programme exclusively crafted for our country’s elite athletes alongside eight other esteemed divers).

Her highlights? Our budding diver snugged home two gold medals at the 2013 and 2015 SEA Games, as well as a bronze during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. But of course, the defining triumph is when the lass bagged home an individual gold medal for the women’s 10m platform at the Asian Diving Cup, earning her an Olympic debut in Rio.

The payoff:

Women’s synchronised 3m springboard (Final) – Rank: 5

When to catch her in action:

17 August 2016 (Wednesday) – 2.00PM – Women’s 10m platform (Preliminary)

#3. Ng Yan Yee (Diving)

Article Visuals - Malaysian Olympics Rio 2016-04

Initially a rhythmic gymnast, Yan Yee later on rolled out another prowess up her sleeve – a knack in diving. The 23 year-old natural-born talent was first tracked down by diving national coach, Yang Zhuliang, who was captivated by her physique that is ideal for the sport.

While we were (probably) caught up with puberty and raging hormones, our national diver began her training at the mere age of 13. Since then, Yan Yee, who is also known as Wendy, has clinched three gold medals and three silver medals at the SEA Games.

Not surprisingly, Yan Yee managed to book her next flight to the Olympics 2016 after qualifying among the top 12 divers and making it to the final after collecting 296.10 points.

When to catch her in action:

12 August 2016 (Friday) – 2.30PM – Women’s diving 3m springboard (Preliminary)

#4. Pandelela Rinong (Diving)

Article Visuals - Malaysian Olympics Rio 2016-05

Our very own Sarawakian pride, Pandelela boasts an array of impressive achievements up her alley. If you haven’t heard of it (although we can’t fathom why), the diva darling is the first female Malaysian athlete to bring home a medal at the Olympics, as well as the first to ever snug an Olympic medal in any sport other than… yes, you’ve guessed it right, badminton.

Earning her place in the spotlight with numerous victories at various international diving competitions, the 23 years-old mermaid further etched her reputation as a world-class diver by bagging a Bronze medal at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Pandelela is once again set for the world stage at Rio Olympics and we’re behind her all the way!

The payoff:

Women’s synchronised 10m platform (Final) – Malaysia’s first silver medal in Rio (can we have a collective cheer please?!)

When to catch her in action:

17 August 2016 (Wednesday) – 2.00PM – Women’s 10m platform (Preliminary)

#5. Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy (Sailing)

Article Visuals - Malaysian Olympics Rio 2016-06

Khairulnizam officially nailed down his ticket to Rio Olympics when the 23-year-old chap grabbed the gold medal in the men’s Laser Standard category earlier this year at the Asian Sailing Championships. His love affair with the ocean was ignited when the then 8-year-old Khairulnizam participated in his first national competition.

Along the way, our top sailor has overcome significant hurdles in his sporting career but was never defeated. Poised to bring glory with his dynamic yet powerful sailing prowess, our home-grown sailor will be attempting his second Olympic campaign after the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The payoff:

Men’s laser (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 1 – Rank: 38
Men’s laser (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 2 – Rank: 33
Men’s laser (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 3 – Rank: 40
Men’s laser (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 4 – Rank: 33
Men’s laser (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 5 – Rank: 20
Men’s laser (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 6 – Rank: 21

When to catch him in action:

12 August 2016 (Friday) –12.15PM – Men’s laser radial – dinghy – (Preliminaries Race 7)
12 August 2016 (Friday) – 1.40PM – Men’s laser radial – dinghy – (Preliminaries Race 8)
13 August 2016 (Saturday) – 12.05PM – Men’s laser radial – dinghy – (Preliminaries Race 9)
13 August 2016 (Saturday) – 1.30PM – Men’s laser radial – dinghy – (Preliminaries Race 10)

#6. Nur Shazrin Mohd Latif (Sailing)

Article Visuals - Malaysian Olympics Rio 2016-07

Yet another milestone carved in our history when Nur Shazrin became the first Malaysian female sailor to officially qualify for Rio Olympics in Brazil. But don’t let her mere age of 18 years deceive you into thinking she isn’t a threat!

The Singapore SEA Games gold medalist rendered an outstanding finish to win a silver medal at the Asian Sailing Championships that took place in Abu Dhabi; all of which, greatly lent a hand in sealing her a slot in Rio. We can’t wait to see her conquering the ocean!

The payoff:

Women’s laser radial (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 1 – Rank: 26
Women’s laser radial (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 2 – Rank: 33
Women’s laser radial (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 3 – Rank: 34
Women’s laser radial (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 4 – Rank: 30
Women’s laser radial (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 5 – Rank: 33
Women’s laser radial (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 6 – Rank: 35
Women’s laser radial (dinghy) – Preliminaries Race 7 – Rank: 30

When to catch her in action:

12 August 2016 (Friday) –12.05PM – Women’s laser radial – dinghy – (Preliminaries Race 7)
12 August 2016 (Friday) –1.30PM – Women’s laser radial – dinghy – (Preliminaries Race 8)
13 August 2016 (Saturday) –12.15PM – Women’s laser radial – dinghy – (Preliminaries Race 9)
13 August 2016 (Saturday) – 1.40PM – Women’s laser radial – dinghy – (Preliminaries Race 10)

#7. Nauraj Singh Randhawa (High jump)

Article Visuals - Malaysian Olympics Rio 2016-08

Ironically, this 24-year-old high jumper wasn’t even interested in high jump – the sport chose him instead. In fact, all he wanted to pursue was football and hockey but under the encouragement of his primary school teacher, his knack for high jumping was honed.

Our lanky jumper made the cut for the Rio Olympics when he cleared 2.29 metres at the Singapore Open earlier this year, impressively smashing his own national mark of 2.27 metres. Nauraj is also previously a gold medal holder from the 2013 SEA Games.

When to catch him in action:

14 August 2016 – 7.30PM – Men’s high jump (Qualification)

#8. Jonathan Wong Guanjie (Shooting)

Article Visuals - Malaysian Olympics Rio 2016-09

The 24-year-old shooter carved yet another momentous victory for the country when he bagged home a gold medal at the Asia Olympic Qualifying Tournament in India earlier this year. Despite being his first ever Asian-level tournament, the Malacca native not only delivered a stellar performance but for the better, it also landed him a golden ticket to Rio!

Jonathan who is also currently an aerospace engineering student in UPM (University Putra Malaysia) is certainly one to look out for. With his highly promising shooting skills, we highly recommend staying tuned to his performance in the Rio Olympics!

The payoff:

Shooting 10m Air Pistol Men – Qualification – Rank: 28
Shooting 50m Pistol Men – Qualification – Rank: 37

Article Visuals - Malaysian Olympics Rio 2016-10

We may still have a long road to tread before Malaysia emerges as amongst the front runners of the medals tally at world sporting and athletic events, but we’re certainly on the right track with these young talents on board.

Despite the galaxy of international stars who will be competing at the Olympics 2016, we have faith that our young guns are set to leave their mark in Rio. Start showering our unwavering support towards them by tuning in their show-time!

(Feature Image Credit: The Star)

Feeling a tad intimidated by our young guns’ achievements? Well, hold that thought! Not everyone is cut out to be an athlete but you can find out where your academic forte lies!

 

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