All eyes on Arena of Valor as Malaysian team march into gold medal contention in e-sport

HANGZHOU — All eyes will be on the Arena of Valor where the country’s agonising wait for a medal of any colour in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games will come to an end as our heroes marched into the e-sport final.

By claiming a spot in the final, the Malaysian contingent is already assured of at least a silver medal but despite facing the ‘Great Wall’ in the final, the national e-sport team is oozing with confidence of beating host China for the gold, especially after having beaten Vietnam 2-0 in the semifinal at the Hangzhou E-sport Centre.

Malaysia, represented by Lai Chia Chien, Nicholas Ng Khai Shuan, Ong Jun Yang, Eng Jun Hao, Yong Zhan Quan and Chong Han Hui will become the contributors of the first medal for the country in the Asiad.

Despite e-sport being contested in the Asiad programme for the first time, Malaysia has established itself as a team to be reckoned with in Asia.

The country’s medal hopes will also hinge on sailing where Asnawi Iqbal Adam has a chance of winning at least a bronze in the men’s ILCA 4 category since he is currently third in the overall standings with only one more race remaining.

Sailing events held at the Ningbo Xiangshan sailing centre situated about 170 kilometres (km) from here, Asnawi Iqbal completed nine of the 10 races in second place and that will give him an advantage to finish on the podium.

Nur Shazrin Mohamad Latif meanwhile, is on the right track for a gold after dominating the early proceedings in the women’s ILCA 6 but the medal deciding races are only scheduled for Wednesday.

On the field, the women’s hockey squad, also referred to as the Malaysian Tigress, joined in the race for the country’s medal hunt after putting up a dazzling show to beat Hong Kong 8-0 in a Group A match at the Gongshu Canal Sports Park Stadium.

The country’s sepak takraw team had to fight tooth and nail against arch rivals Indonesia in their first Group B match before emerging with a 2-1 victory at the JSC Gymnasium.

After two dry days (medal tally), Malaysia’s chances of joining the rest of the countries in the medal tally look bright as a number of medal hopes see action tomorrow, including 2019 World Wushu champion Tan Cheong Min who will see action in the women’s nanquan+nandao event at the Xiaoshan Guali Sports Centre.

Hopes also remain high at the Chun’an Jieshou Sports Centre Velodrome where our riders are expected to blaze the tracks when track cycling events begin with Muhammad Fadhil Mohd Zonis, Muhammad Ridwan Sahrom and Umar Hasbullah featuring in the men’s Team Sprint.

However, without the country’s track cycling ace Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang in action, the trio not only need to shoulder the medal hopes but prove to the cycling community that they can still mount a serious challenge to others in their pursuit of medals without the Pocketrocketman.

Men’s and women’s squash events will also kick in at the Hangzhou International Exhibition Centre with Malaysia hoping to defend the gold medal won at the 2018 Asian Games hosted by Indonesia in Palembang and Jakarta.

Malaysia athletes will also see action in swimming, shootingmen’s hockey, e-sports as well as equestrian with defending silver medallist Mohd Qabil Ambak Mahamad Fathil competing in the individual Dressage Prix St – Georges at the Tonglu Equestrian Centre.

Meanwhile, host China has already shown its prowess by pulling away from the rest of the field in the medal tally with 39 gold, 21 silver and nine bronze, leaving second placed South Korea a distant second with (10-10-13) while Japan are in third spot with a tally of (5-14-12). — BERNAMA