Kamarul (left) and Tengku Dzulkifli make last-minute checks to the scoring equipment at the Gong Badak Indoor Stadium yesterday.
IF there was a need to identify the spirit of the Malaysia Games in this 12th edition of the biennial event, then it would be about the spreading of the sporting culture, the emergence of facilities in host States and, like what the Terengganu Amateur Fencing Association (TAFA) has gone through, the combination of both which results in the beginning of better things to come.
Within just 14 months after TAFA was formed, it had indentified and produced young fencers, beefed up facilities in the State, got a development programme running and won its first gold medal in an international event. It seemed like a breeze.
Not only that, the association was tasked with preparing the venue and all facilities for the Malaysia Games, something that had never been done in Terengganu before.
"This was made easier thanks to funds made available for the purpose by the Malaysia Games secretariat.
"We set up a protem committee, chaired by Datuk Mohd Rozi Abdul Rahman (Terengganu State executive committee chairman for sports) and got moving," said TAFA development committee chairman Ahmad Kamarul Idrus.
"We brought in some fencers from other States and started to groom our own home-grown talent just for the Malaysia Games."
The State Sports Council was the main backer of the development programme, which also saw them bringing in Indonesian coach Badrul Alam to take charge of the fencers.
"Most of our fencers are based at the Bandar Penawar Sports School right now, but, hopefully, in the future when our own Bukit Nenas Sports School is up and running, they can be based there," said Ahmad Kamarul.
And the programme has seen early success in the Danga Bay International Games in February when the Terengganu women's team epee squad of Che Ku Nur Aida Che Ku Rahim, Nazirah Mohd Adzeman and Nor Fazlin Atan bagged the gold medal, beating other teams from around South East Asia.
Terengganu also bagged two silver and two bronze medals in that Games.
"We're happy to say that in such a short time, we've managed to put up a full squad to compete in all 12 events at the Malaysia Games.
"We have targeted one gold medal from the women's team epee which would be the icing on the cake for all the hard work and the great support from the Terengganu Sports Council," said Ahmad Kamarul.