Malaysian athletes (from left) Sharon Wee Ee Lin, Nicol David and Low Wee Wern visiting a cultural shop.
AMIRUL Hamizan Ibrahim could only watch from afar as Faizal Baharom successfully defended the 56kg weightlfiting gold for Malaysia in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. It should have been Amirul, who sensationally won three gold in the same category in the Manchester edition four years earlier, defending the title but he was serving a two-year doping ban.
Eight years after that heady night in Manchester, Amirul has the chance to atone for his mistake by delivering what has been targeted as Malaysia's first gold medal of the New Delhi Games at the J.N. Lodhi Colony Complex today.
That he is still the favourite is surprising but weightlifting in the Commonwealth Games is not of a high standard but credit is still due to Amirul for being able to stay at the top.
A two-month training stint in China has prepared him and the rest of the weightlifting team for their assault on four medals.
"Based on the entry list, Azizul's biggest challenger is a lifter from India but we will have a clearer picture after tomorrow's (today) weigh-in," said team manager Zainuddin Joseph yesterday.
"The 56kg gold has been Malaysia's since 2002 and we are targeting a hat-trick and Amirul is fired up to deliver, especially after having missed the Melbourne Games."
Besides Amirul, Zaira Zakaria is targeted to deliver a medal in the women's below 48kg which, if it materialises, will be Malaysia's first of the Games.
Another Malaysian who will be in action on the opening day of competition is squash star Nicol David, who is chasing the final part of what will be a career grand slam for her.
Nicol opens her campaign against Sri Lanka's Awe Dhaminda.
Women lawn bowlers Nur Fidrah Noh, Azlina Arshad and Zuraini Khalid will also start their campaign to defend the triples gold medal won in Melbourne '06.
Read more: NST