By Wendy John
SIBU, Dec 18: Students from SMK Sibu Jaya did their school, the Sibu Jaya township and the whole of Central Region proud when they lifted 15 golds and 11 silvers at the recent Sarawak Games (SUKSAR II) weightlifting event.
Central Region was targeting 20 golds at the games, with the student weightlifters expected to account for at least half of the target.
Beyond expectations, the students excelled and grabbed 15 golds from the weightlifting event, pushing the final tally for central region to 35 golds, well ahead of the region’s initial target.
At a simple ceremony in Sibu Jaya to celebrate their success, team manager Mackencidy Bujang and team coach Randy Kembaren, both teachers of SMK Sibu Jaya, were beaming with pride.
“Five years ago when we started this sport at SMK Sibu Jaya, we were literally zeroes,” Mackencidy said. “Today, the students are the true heroes of the games.”
The journey from zero to hero was not easy. But with a systematic approach and discipline combined with commitment from both teachers and students, and support of the principal and parents, what was impossible became a reality, the happy team manager said.
What made the success even sweeter was the Central Region comprising Sibu, Kapit and Mukah wasn’t expected to unseat their northern counterparts, widely acknowledged as the weightlifting powerhouse.
In paying tribute to his 13 students, Mackencidy also praised a student from SMK Tiong Hin who was part of the winning contingent.
“This student adapted well with the rest of his team mates from SMK Sibu Jaya and went on to pick up a silver medal in his first outing. That is a very impressive achievement,” he said.
Now that they were the reigning champions in the Sarawak Games weightlifting event, Mackencidy cautioned his charges against letting success get to their heads.
“The other regions will be gunning for us at the next Games to be held in Sibu in 2021. And we must all work even harder to ensure we do not let our Region down,” he said.
Team coach Randy said the team was also grateful to the support from State Sports Council’s coach Jelinie Empera who was dedicated to the team. “She played an important role in our victory too,” he said.
On the future direction of his charges, Randy said he hoped parents would be more “open minded” towards the sport.
“Many parents have this misconception that weightlifting is more dangerous and would prefer their children to be involved in other sports,” he lamented.
In reality, the coach said all sports when conducted properly and with proper training was safe.
“So, I hope more parents would allow their children, both the boys and girls, to take up weightlifting as a sport,” he said.
On facilities, which were lacking, Randy said against all odds, the team was able to emerge as champions. “But if we were to defend our title at the next games, we better buck up and provide the needed facilities for our weightlifters,” he said.
Noting that they were training with only three sets of weightlifting equipment, housed in a poorly ventilated room, Randy hoped that the authorities, well-wishers and corporate organisations would step forth to support a sport which has come so far.
“We need more equipment to build strength. We need to provide health supplements for the weightlifters. We need them to be strong physically and mentally too,” he said.
On the construction of the Azman Hashim Community Sports Centre in Sibu Jaya, Randy said it would go a long way in helping not just the weightlifters but other sportsmen and women from the area.
“We really thank Yayasan Azman Hashim for this wonderful and generous donation to SibuJaya. A modern sports centre with international class running track is indeed an overwhelming gift,” he said.
“I just hope that whoever is managing it in the future will factor in a gym and other facilities for weightlifters to use. We need a proper place to train. Conducting our training at the school is not very conducive,” he said. —DayakDaily