This is the FINAL part of our six-part series on Malaysian sporting greats who made it to the headlines for their outstanding achievements, commitment and passion for the game. We hope our list of 60 Greatest Malaysian Athletes have inspired you. This sixth part focuses on the greatest athletes from 2011 to our current favourites:
51) Azizulhasni Awang, Track cycling
At the 2017 Track Cycling World Championships, ‘Pocket Rocketman’ Azizulhasni crossed the finish line in 10.253s and claimed the coveted rainbow jersey; in doing so, he made Malaysian history by becoming our first world champion athlete in an Olympic sport. The Terengganu-born rider also picked up a keirin bronze at last year’s Olympics. While both wins are inspiring, it was his outing at a World Cup leg in 2011 that cemented his place in our hearts: despite having a 20cm wooden splinter piercing through his calf, Azizulhasni remounted his bike and raced on to finish third.
52) Pandelela Rinong, Diving
In 2012, Pandelela became the first female Malaysian athlete to win an Olympic medal when she secured a bronze in the 10m platform – her specialty. Fast-forward to the 2016 Games, she upped her game with a silver in the 10m synchronised platform, along with teammate Cheong Jun Hoong. The 24-year-old Sarawakian picked up two more medals this year; a bronze at the 17th FINA World Championships and a gold at the 2017 SEA Games.
53) Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, Gymnastics
This artistic gymnast made her first professional appearance for Malaysia at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, and while we didn’t win a medal, Farah Ann and team finished a commendable fourth. Five years later, after winning six medals including two gold at the 28th SEA Games, the then 21-year-old came under fire for her ‘revealing’ leotard. This certainly didn’t faze her; she went on to retain her personal gold in the floor exercise in the KL2017, in addition to a team-event win.
54) Abdul Latif Romly, Athletics
Last April, long jump ace Abdul Latif beat Chong Wei and Azizulhasni to win the National Sportsman of the Year award – and rightfully so. The 20-year-old took home a gold at last year’s Paralympics, registering a world-record leap of 7.60m in the T20 event. He also won a gold at World Para Athletics Championships in London last July. His ultimate mission? To be on par with able-bodied athletes, he shared with Malay Mail Online. He’s certainly on track, recently competing at KL2017.
55) Mohd Safiq Rahim, Football
Regarded as one of our finest midfielders, Safiq captained the national team to victory at the 2009 SEA Games (first gold in 20 years for U-23) and 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup (our first win at the tournament); both achievements came at a crucial time for Malaysian football, which needed a revival. Four years later, he became the first midfielder to pick up the Golden Boot in AFF Suzuki Cup’s history. Safiq, a former Red Giants player, is now with JDT, where he led the team to three consecutive league titles (2014-2016).
56) Nauraj Singh Randhawa, Athletics
Last April, high jumper Nauraj set a national record of 2.30m at the Singapore Open Championships. Since then, he has gone on to win a gold at a meet in Spain and defended his crown as SEA’s champ at KL2017; the 25-year-old had clinched gold at the 2013 and 2015 editions.
57) Khairul Hafiz Jantan, Athletics
When Watson Nyambek clocked in his 10.30s on 15th July 1998, Khairul was one week away from being born. Eighteen years later at Sukma Games, Kuching, the young sprinter crossed the 100m finish line at 10.18s, shattering Watson’s national record. A fast-rising athletics star, Khairul made a dash for gold at the recent SEA Games; the last time Malaysia won first place was in 2003. South East Asia’s fastest man also holds the national junior record for the 200m with his 20.90s. Suffice to say, the nation’s hope for athletics greatness rests heavily on Khairul’s shoulders.
58) Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah, Waterskiing
When an 8-year-old Aaliyah secured a SEA Games gold in 2011, she became the youngest gold medallist in the history of the sporting event. Coming from a family of water-skiers [Alex (former F1 driver], Phillipa, Aiden and Adam), it’s little wonder she’s passionate about the sport – and winning left and right. Her recent SEA Games campaign was highly successful, as she bagged medals in women’s jumping, slalom, trick and overall.
59) Low Wee Wern, Squash
Once hailed as Nicol’s replacement, Wee Wern first entered the top 20 World Ranking in September 2010, four years after joining the PSA World Tour. She peaked as World No.5 in 2014, after she lifted her second China Open title. The Penangite is currently recovering from a second knee surgery, and told The Star that she hopes to make it to the Gold Coast Commonwealth and Jakarta Palembang Asian Games next year.
60) Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong, Badminton
Men’s doubles pair V Shem and Wee Kiong first partnered in 2014, and almost immediately impressed badminton fans by picking up a Commonwealth Games gold and an Asian Games bronze. Two years later, they enjoyed more wins at the Rio Olympics, Denmark Open and Dubai World Superseries Finals among others, thus topping the achievements of their seniors, Kien Keat and Boon Heong. As of this month, they’re 7th on the BWF world ranking. However, 2017 is proving to be a tough year for the duo; experiencing a slump, the shuttlers have agreed to split.
Sources: www.thestar.com.my, www.cyclingnews.com, www.fina.org, en.wikipedia.org, www.visionkl.com, www.themalaymailonline.com, www.fourfourtwo.com, www.goal.com, www.straitstimes.com, www.sandiegouniontribune.com, www.columnlife.com, www.proskiers.com, psaworldtour.com, stadium.my