THE absence of Doha Asian Games winner Rufina Tan and the presence of a plethora of national sailors at the Malaysia Games poses a formidable challenge to a young Sabah sailing team hoping to repeat their three-gold haul of 2006.
Added to that, Sabah’s three gold medals in the last Games in Kedah all came in the optimist categories, for which their sailors are now overaged.
Josephine Tan and Mabel Lim who finished 1-2 in the girls’ optimist in Kedah have graduated to the International 420 but face an uphill struggle against the sister combination from Kedah of Siti Noorbaidurah and Khairunnisa Mohd Afendy, who start as favourites.
Similarly Sabah’s boys’ optimist champion of 2006, Adrian Brian Chang, has moved up to the laser radial where another of Kedah’s Mohd Afendy siblings, Khairulnizam, is the favourite.
“The sailing fleet is also a lot stronger than the last time with the national sailors all competing here.
“We are hopeful of giving our best and are looking at medals of any colour.”
In Rufina’s absence, Perak’s Nurul Elia Anuar, the Asian Games bronze medallist in the women’s laser 4.7, is the main attraction in Setiu when she takes to the sea in the laser radial event.
Seven gold medals are on offer in sailing in the men’s and women’s optimist, laser radial and International 420 and the mixed team optimist event.