MALAYSIA’S hopes of a medal-winning start to the Commonwealth Games today lie on the shoulders of cyclist Fatehah Mustafa, rhythmic gymnasts Amy Kwan Dict Weng, Wong Poh San and Fatin Zakirah Jalany Zain, and weightlifters Sharifah Inani Najwa, Mohd Faizal Baharom and Zulhelmi Md. Pisol.
Fatehah, the Malaysian flag bearer at yesterday’s opening ceremony, will be counting on that honour to push her towards a medal in a world class field in the 500m time trial.
Fatehah, 25, opens her campaign with a tough challenge as she will be up against New Zealand’s Stephanie Mckenzie, a silver medallist in the keirin and individual sprint in the 2011 World Junior Championships.
Coincidentally, both cyclists count Anna Meares - the gold medallist when the 500m was last contested at the 2004 Athens Olympics - as their hero and the Australian will be the one to beat for the title.
“It is a pity that the women’s keirin is not being contested but I have been preparing for the 500m and am confident,” said Fatehah, who would become the first Malaysian woman cyclist to do so if she wins a medal.
Azizulhasni Awang and Josiah Ng will also be in action in the preliminary rounds of the sprint and the duo will then team up with Muhammad Edrus Md Yunos and Rizal Tisin for the team sprint, which could also deliver a medal.
It will be tough though as a world class field is assembled in Glasgow and the Malaysians will have to be at their best to challenge.
The rhythmic gymnasts are also confident but they will have a long wait before knowing if they win a medal as they will compete in the afternoon session with the other half of the teams performing their routines in the evening.
Gold is not expected from the weightlifters but they are in the running for the lesser medals while the swimmers will have their work cut out to make the finals, given the awesome strength of the Australians and English.
The lawn bowlers, who left New Delhi disappointed after sterling shows in 2002 and 2006, also begin their campaign in the preliminary rounds today.