MCM

PETALING JAYA: Former Olympian Lee Wan Yuen is making a surprise comeback to competition in a bid to win the SEA Games taekwondo women’s heavyweight gold medal for the third time in Laos in December.

Wan Yuen secured a place in the team for the Games by winning in the category at the national selection trials in Bukit Jalil last week.

The 32-year-old mother of an eight-year-old boy had stayed out of competitions after quitting the national team five years ago to raise a family.

“Many people were surprised by the fact that I entered for the national selection trials. But I won against younger exponents and Sukma (Malaysia Games) gold medallists,” she said.

“I would not dare to accept the invitation to compete in another SEA Games if I had not proven my worth. I have never shied away from a challenge and I want to see whether I can still win a third gold medal.

“Frankly I am not satisfied yet as I failed to win gold in my last outing in the SEA Games (she took silver in Hanoi in 2003.”

Wan Yuen was a top heavyweight exponent to be reckoned with in the region. She was the SEA Games gold medallist in Jakarta in 1997 and Brunei two years later.

At the higher level, Wan Yuen took silver in the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and she made history as the first Malaysian taekwondo exponent to compete in the Olympics – in Sydney in 2000.

She took a break for one year to get married and have a baby and made a successful return to competition by taking bronze in the 2002 Busan Asiad.

“I have to thank the national coach (R. Dhanaraj) and the National Sports Council (NSC) for giving me the chance to see action again at the SEA Games level,” she said.

“The coach felt that with my experience, I can still be competitive at the SEA Games level. My physical condition is not up to mark yet but I can work on this before we go to Laos.”

Malaysia will have a team of 12 exponents for the Laos Games.

The women’s exponents include 2007 Korat Games gold medallists Elaine Teo and Che Chew Chan. The others are Nurul Asmfalina Mohd Bohari, Nurul Nadia Mahamat, Denise Kok and Nor Idayu Mohd Remey.

The male fighters in the team are Ryan Chong, Rusfredy Petrus, Harith Feizal Mat Nor, Mohd Affifuddin Sidek and Chu Jensen.

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