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COVER
STORY

TUESDAY
28 March
2006

The makings of a

champion

BY NIKI CHEONG

IT IS not often that one can call


himself a world champion, let alone
at the tender age of 22. But that is a
title that Malaysian wushu
exponent Lim Yew Fai will hold with
him for the rest of his life, after
taking home the gold medal at the
8th Wushu World Championships in
Hanoi, Vietnam, last year.
Yew Fai joined three others who
also became world champions in
their respective events when he beat
competitors from almost 50 countries in his jianshu (double-edged
sword) event.
The success was even sweeter as it

came very shortly after the


Malaysian wushu team had their
worse ever outing at the SEA Games
in Manila, the Philippines. For the
first time since the sport was introduced to the Games, the Malaysian
team left without a single gold
medal in wushu.
But what is it that makes a champion? Do these people really dream
of being champions as young children?
Not really, was the curt answer
from Yew Fai when asked if he ever
thought hed come this far. In 1996,
I would have been happy with any
little achievement (but) slowly, I got
into the SEA Games and when you

go for competitions like that, you


have to set targets.
It doesnt seem too long ago when
Yew Fai first ventured into the world
of wushu. In fact, he only took it up as
a hobby in 1994 when, together with
his brother Yew Yin (a former
Malaysian wushu exponent), asked
their father to introduce them to
wushu. At that time, their father also
engaged in traditional wushu as a pastime.
Two years on, however, the petite
Yew Fai discovered that he had the
talent to go much further and thus,
started taking part in competitions.
Before long, he entered the Bukit
Jalil Sports School.
In the beginning, I just trained

once a week. But from 1996


onwards, it had increased to six sessions in a week, he said.
In 2000, Yew Fai started training
full time as part of the co-curriculum
at the Sports School. Hed start
training at seven every morning
before heading off to his academic
classes between 9am and 2pm. After
that, it was back to training. All the
hard work paid off, however, when he
made the national team that same
year.
A year later, Yew Fai donned
national colours at the SEA Games.
Barely a couple of years after that,
he returned with two bronze medals
at the World Championships. In
2004, he bagged a silver medal at

the Asian Championships. Such was


his slow and steady rise to world
champion level.
Having been involved in wushu for
11 years now, Yew Fai said that he
has thought of when he would hang
up his er, swords. The fact that he has
had two injuries since last year has
also cast some doubts on his future.
On the bright side, I have this
year to recuperate as the only major
competition is the Asian Games and
my event is not being featured, so I
wont be taking part, he said.
He also has other ambitions hed
like to go into styling. A few years
ago, when he completed his
secondary school studies, Yew Fai
took up tailoring for a while but
gave it up to concentrate more on
the sport. He hopes to go into hairstyling in the near future, however.
But for the moment, Yew Fai is
focused on defending his world champion title next year. Despite the injury,
he is still training equally hard. He is
currently in Shanghai with the national team training for a month. He also
hopes to participate in the Olympics
before he retires.
That would be nice, he said
adding, even if the medal doesnt
add to the Olympics tally. He was
referring to the International
Olympic Committees agreement to
wushu being included in the 2008
Olympic Games in Beijing, although
the medals wouldnt be taken into
consideration.
What was most heartwarming to
note, though, was that Yew Fai is
aiming for this glory not for himself,
but for the country. This was evident
in his answer to the question about
being able to compete at major tournaments like the Olympics or
Commonwealth Games.
I would love for that opportunity, Yew Fai noted. If that happens,
it would significantly increase our
countrys chance of getting more
medals.
A patriot and a world champion
what more could we ask from a
young man?

g
n
i
t
h
g
i
f
u
Kung f

r the actual
al medal tally fo
tu
en
that
ev
least,
n is convinced
s, in Malaysia at
es. The Federatio
ce
am
an
G
ar
pe
t
ap
no

an
FOR many year
t
martial ar
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r
ab
he
be
ot
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w
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ju
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in some form at
idering
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in
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what is consider
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al wushu refers
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Federation is al
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d
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ith a strong m
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in the world, w
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pics.
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omens team).
handed out bu
pretty strong w
e
Medals will be
th
to
t be counted in
winnings will no

(From left) Daoshu silver medalist


Ang Eng Chong, Nanquan silver
medalist Ho Ro Bin and Jianshu
bronze medalist Lim Yew Fai at the
Manila Sea Games.

COVER
STORY

3
TUESDAY
28 March
2006