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Five carry Malaysian flag into first Winter Games

Chef-de-mission Mumtaz (right) will lead Malaysia’s diminutive team of two athletes and two coaches into uncharted territory at the Pyeongchang Games. Flanking OCM chief Tunku Imran is Huang Ying How (left) who is chef-de-mission for Commonwealth Games. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Chef-de-mission Mumtaz (right) will lead Malaysia’s diminutive team of two athletes and two coaches into uncharted territory at the Pyeongchang Games. Flanking OCM chief Tunku Imran is Huang Ying How (left) who is chef-de-mission for Commonwealth Games. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Malaysia will have one of the smallest, if not the smallest contingent, at the 2018 Winter Olympics but they will walk in with pride.

Headed by chef-de-mission (CDM) Datuk Mumtaz Jaafar, the team consisting of two athletes, two coaches and one CDM takes the nation into uncharted territory as Julien Yee Zhi-Jie and Jeffrey Webb attempt to win a medal.

“Julien’s very good and he is well known in South Korea,” said Mumtaz when met at the Olympic Council of Malaysia appreciation lunch at Royal Selangor Club (Dataran) yesterday.

“Julien has qualified by finishing among the top six skaters who had previously yet to secure qualification at the 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy while Jeffrey’s in for alpine skiing and qualifying for the event closes at end of January.

“It’s a matter of pride for us. The Winter Olympic Council is very strict with the numbers allowed from smaller nations to come for the games. Hence, we have a small team.

“If you ask me what expectations I have, I don’t want to put any (pressure). It’s a ‘first’ for all of us and I’d like to see how we can perform.”

Julien is a five-time Malaysian senior national champion (2013-2017) and has competed in the final segment at seven ISU (International Skating Union) Championships, including two World Championships and is the 2017 SEA Games gold medallist.

For Jeffrey, he had to secure below a certain amount of points by competing in numerous Alpine Ski Racing events, which are calculated using different formulas for each event.

Since Malaysia does not have a formal ski team or experienced skiers, Jeffrey relies on the support of his father Steve Webb, his local coaches in Seattle, as well as his mother Jasmin Webb. He is undergoing intense training on snow in Oregon and Switzerland, and his training continues during the fall and winter seasons.

“It’ll be great learning experience for us to go there and see how they run the show. I’m looking forward to it,” added Mumtaz a former national 100m and relay sprinter and now OCM vice-president.

The games will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from Feb 9-25.

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