Thursday, December 13, 2007

Qabil Rewrites SEA Games Equestrian History

PATTAYA, Dec 12 (Bernama) -- National ace Qabil Ambak Mahamad Fathil rewrote SEA Games equestrian history by becoming its first two times quadruple gold medallist.

Today he repeated the feat he achieved in the 2005 Manila SEA Games by winning his fourth equestrian gold in the 24th Korat SEA Games,

The 27-year-old Qabil accomplished the amazing feat when he won the men's individual Show Jumping gold at the Horseshoe Point course here.

Astride "Parvina", his performance was almost flawless, with only a single penalty.

But Malaysia's quest for a one-two finish were dashed after Syed Omar Almohdzar came in fourth.

Filipino rider Diego Lorenzo, with 17 penalties, won the silver while Thailand's Pongsiree Bunluewong overtook Syed Omar to win the bronze medal.

"What can I say...I am truly delighted. I came here expecting to win some medals but thought four will be difficult as the Thais are strong and have the home ground advantage," said Qabil, who also won a silver and bronze in the Doha Asian Games.

According to him, the victory did not come easy as he had to make a lot of sacrifices with constant travelling to train in Holland and compete in various countries prior to the SEA Games, including in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

"For the past few months, I was hardly at home. I had to put extra work to be a class above the rest," said Qabil, who had earlier won gold in the individual and team Dressage, and team Show Jumping.

He at first wanted to opt out from the Korat Games to enable younger riders to get exposure and experience but made the trip here because the national team needed a seasoned campaigner as a leader.

Asked if the Korat SEA Games would be his swansong, Qabil said it was too early to decide although he would prefer to let the youngsters compete in the biennial games.

With four gold medals in the bag, Qabil said he would now focus on qualifying for the World Championships in the United States in 2010 and the 2012 Olympics, as well as winning gold at the 2010 Asian Games.

After a short break, Qabil said he would be on the move again, with immediate attention on the World Cup in Sweden in April.

With 17 years dedicated to the sport, Qabil said he was also thinking of settling down.

"But the timing is not right yet. With horses, lot of time is spent in training and competition," he said.

Qabil made his debut in the 1995 SEA Games in Chiang Mai and had been on the ascent since. He recorded the first quadruple in the 2001 Kuala Lumpur Games.

Team manager Dr S. Selvarajah said the team are now looking forward to make a clean sweep in equestrian by winning the two gold medals at stake in eventing which starts tomorrow.

"We have achieved our target and we are in good position to win two more gold," he said.

Malaysians will also be proud to know that only the national anthem has been played in all the equestrian events so far.


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