SAILING: Khairulnizam not about to slow down

BUSY 2014: Sea Games gold medallist has set his sights on qualifying for Rio Olympics and doing well at Asian Games

KHAIRULNIZAM Mohd Afendy capped a challenging year with a first Sea Games title in Myanmar recently but the promising sailor has already set his sights on  bigger goals next year.

The laser standard specialist said he hopes to secure early qualification to the Rio Olympics with a solid outing at the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander, Spain in September.

It will, however, be a busy period for him as the Incheon Asian Games, where he is likely to be a medal contender, will also be held in the same month.

“My goal is to qualify for the Olympics as early as possible as you never know what will happen in the qualification legs,” said the 20-year-old.

“Only 48 countries can qualify (for Olympics) so I need to finish in the top 30 or 40 in Santander to have a solid chance of making it.

“I also want to do well at the Asian Games but for me the World Championships is more important. It will be tough as the two events are less than a week apart.

“If I am in good form at the time I could be a challenger for the gold (Asian Games) but to be honest I would be happy with a medal any colour there.”

Khairulnizam, who has been training in Croatia under the guidance of former world champion Aron Lolic, added that his victory at the Ngwe Saung Beach earlier this month was a fair reward for the hard work he had put in training this season.

“It was tough for me as I had to balance studying (sports science) and training at the same time but I am grateful that is has all paid off for me at the Sea Games.

“I could not train as much as I would have liked at the start of the year (due to studies) and my performance dipped as a result.

“But I started to pick up later in the year and felt good in my first race at the Sea Games when I had to use a rented boat as my new vessel had yet to arrive.

“I knew then that I could seal the title if I raced to my full potential, especially once I had got my own boat.

“A lot of people expected me to win and I am glad that I lived up to that.”

The Malaysian Yachting Association and National Sports Council had coughed up RM500,000 to equip the sailing squad with new high-end boats and equipment for the Sea Games with an eye on using them in future competitions such as the Asian Games.

The Malaysian Yachting Association and National Sports Council coughed up RM500,000 to equip the sailing squad with new high-end boats and equipment.

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