KUCHING, Feb 21: Former national weightlifter Stanley Robert, the first Iban to win the weightlifting gold in the Malaysia Games (Sukma), is feeling blessed that he is still involved in the sports after almost 20 years since retiring.
Now working as a gym instructor with the Sarawak State Sports Council (MSNS), the Sri Aman native said he is enjoying every moment of it, considering his love and passion for weightlifting.
Stanley admitted that he was not the sharpest tool in the shed and with little education, he was content to be able to make a decent living today helping athletes to shape their body and building strength.
“I was lucky to have tread the path that many of my fellow natives did not have the opportunity to experience. For an Iban youth with little education, I was fortunate to have worked in the city and had fun doing what I did.
“Without weightlifting earlier in my life, I would have seen myself doing menial job like a construction worker, as many of my fellow longhouse mates,” he said.
The retired weightlifter advised Dayak youth to follow his footsteps and pursue sports, especially weightlifting, which was still considered “unglamorous” amongst the rural natives.
“They should try their luck, especially those who are well endowed physically, to take up weightlifting that should suit them. Those with the sporting and strength ability should give weightlifting a go instead of wasting their lives settling for odd jobs and hard labour,” he said.
Stanley’s illustrious career had seen him crossing paths several times with former Commonwealth Games silver medallist Martin Guntali, as they were in the same weight category of 56kg.
Reflecting their rivalry, he has nothing but praise for the Sabahan.
“He was more famous but I had scored wins over him in the snatch (event) but he was better then me in the clean and jerk,” he said.
Stanley had won three gold medals, four silver and five bronze medals in three Sukma editions -1996 in Pahang, Selangor (1998) and Sabah (2000).
He specialised in the snatch and competed in the 50kg in the first Sukma and 56kg in the following two Malaysia Games.
He was included in the Project SEA Games 2001 and competed in the Australian Open.
Stanley attributed his success in the sports to former Sarawak weightlifting coaches William Yeo and Marali Ali, who spotted his talent when he was studying at SMK Pending in Kuching.
The two coaches helped trained and nurture Stanley’s growth in the sports. He also mentioned MSNS officials Donald Tan and the late Standly Jemat as other individuals who were instrumental and the driving force behind his rise to the top.
“My success ultimately rest on my shoulders but without so many people who encouraged and pushed me, I would not have achieved success,” he said.
Stanley’s first tournament was the inter-centre held in Kuching, where he won his first competition and ended up selected for Sukma training.
Yeo managed to get Stanley to enter Bukit Jalil Sports Schools in 1999 under the National Sports Council (MSN) programme, where he stayed until 2001.
“Training was hard with two sessions a day, in the morning and afternoon, plus gym training, but I enjoyed it.
“I cannot imagine where I would be today if not my involvement and success in weightlifting, especially that I have a proper job now in the city. My success story could also become another individual from the village.
“Of course training was hard but I was happy to be in the sport and had great interest and was very discipline,” he reminisced his involvement in weightlifting.
Encouraging the village youths to take up the sports, Stanley said the rural native are mostly tougher and stronger than their urban counterpart due to their lifestyle and involvement rural economic activities.
He added that getting started in weightlifting does not require much equipment and most importantly, those interested can start by looking after their diet.
“Just like any aspiring athletes, all it takes is the interest, commitment, passion and discipline to excel,” he continued.
He added that MSNS has setup training centres throughout the state in Sibu Jaya, SMK Bakong and SMK Tinjar in Miri, SMK Mendamit in Limbang and SMK Sarikei, apart from Kuching. — DayakDaily