Personalities

Under 25: Meet the 10 young star athletes of Malaysia

by Nikita Nawawi
06.12.2017
They are young, spirited and filled to the brim with talent. They are the hope of our nation to shine in the world of sports. Who are they?

Our nation has reached the highest high and also hit the lowest low; and while there is no telling what the future holds, these 10 young talented athletes – all under the age of 25 – have ignited a new beacon of hope that signals a better tomorrow for Malaysia.

From figure skating to triathlon and squash, these young contenders are ones to look out for in the coming 2018.

Featured in our Dec '17/Jan'18 bumper issue under "The Dazed After Tomorrow", we now give you a sneak peek at the exclusive interviews right here. Enjoy!

Zoe Bowden

(@ZOE_BOWDEN), TRIATHLON, 18

 

When she’s not an athlete, who is Zoe Bowden?
I’m actually quite an introvert; I prefer to stay home most of the time. But when I do go out, I like to go to the movies, try new restaurants and read; I love everything by Haruki Murakami.

 

What’s next for you?
I recently got into Commonwealth Games qualifier in Putrajaya where I came second. So now I’m leaving it to the Olympic Council to decide whether or not they want to take me to the Games next year.

 

(Outfit: Loewe)

Julian Yee

(@JULIANYEEEE), FIGURE SKATING, 20

 

You’re the first Malaysian figure skater to ever qualify for the Winter Olympics in 2018. What was going through your head when the news broke?
To be honest, nothing was in my head at the time. We were at the final qualifier and there, the result comes out right after you skate. So, I remember waiting for my points with my coach and my mom. When I found out that I made the cut, I was just relieved that all the hard work we put in paid off.

Rachel Arnold

(@RACHARNOLDDDD), SQUASH, 21

 

Coming from a family that has a stellar track record in squash, does that come with certain kind of pressure?
I think the pressure will always be there. I just try not to think about it too much and let myself have fun because squash is something that I’m very passionate about.

But of course, I want to be better than my sister (Delia Arnold), eventually.

 

Your career is only blooming but what has been the highlight of it so far?
The SEA Games in 2015 where I won both team and single events, and I just won gold for doubles at this year’s Games. Also, I currently rank at number 50 in the world and I hope to break into the top 10 before I hit 25.

 

(Outfit: Versace)

Christian Lee

(@CLEE_TENNIS), TENNIS, 25

 

 

How did you get into tennis?
Both my parents played, my dad was actually a semi-professional. I’ve been playing since I was four years old and it actually started at squash courts, playing against the wall.

I moved to Florida when I was 16 to gain more experience before returning home few years after.

 

What was the hardest match that you’ve ever done?
Winning or losing? (laughs) I have to say the doubles final I had earlier this year where my partner and I beat out a top-seeded duo after being six championship points down, which means we had to score seven to eight points consecutively to win.

Had we lost just one point, we would’ve lost the entire tournament.

 

(Outfit: Gucci)

Zylane Lee

(@ZYLANE), SYNCHRONISED SWIMMING, 25

 

What do you think is the biggest hurdle about being a synchronised swimmer?
That the field is extremely small here; there are only four states in Malaysia that recognise this sport.

I consider myself fortunate that my mom was in the first batch of synchronised swimming team. She used to take me and my sister to her trainings and that’s how I got my start.

 

One thing that people don’t know about you.
I’m studying Science and Food Technology at Universiti Putra Malaysia and I dream to invent food for astronauts.

But right now I’m focussing on my sports career until 2020 for the Olympics.

 

(Outfit: Prada)

Leong Chee Feng

(@CHEEFENGLEONG), TABLE TENNIS, 19

 

What was the most memorable event for you?
The 2013 SEA Junior Championship where I won both double and single categories. Those were two of the first gold medals I won overseas.

We didn’t get to celebrate much as we had another game coming in Malaysia but that’s fine.

 

Finish this sentence: “If I could change one rule of the game, I would...”
Make it a standard practice that our team gets a head start in terms of points whenever we are up against players from China. They’re just (almost) impossible to beat! (laughs)

 

(Outfit: Dior Homme)

Chuah Yu Tian

(@YUTIAN_YUTIAN), POLE VAULT, 24

 

Pole vault is not a popular sport in Malaysia, so what motivates you to continue on this journey?
It’s true that there aren’t many pole vaulters out there, especially women, but it doesn’t bother me.

My senior Roslinda Samsu proved that it is possible to take our talents into pole vault beyond the borders. She made it to the Olympics in 2008!

 

When have you been the most satisfied with yourself?
At the recent SEA Games where I won the silver medal. It was my first SEA Games ever and I wasn’t expecting to place at all since all the medallists from the previous Games were there.

 

(Outfit: Versace)

Welson Sim

(@WELSONSIM), AQUATIC SWIMMING, 20

 

At 20 years old, you’re already making and breaking records, what’s your secret?
It’s not really a secret. It’s all about the hard work and sacrifice.

I’ve been swimming since I was 10, initially because of my chronic asthma condition but I’m grateful to have made it this far.

 

How do you release tension?
I play computer games and my go-to is DOTA. I play a lot of DOTA.

 

One fact about you that’s least expected.
I don’t get angry easily.

 

(Outfit: Gucci)

Tracie Ang

(@TRACIE_ANG), GYMNASTICS, 24

 

Being an athlete means you start at the earliest stage of life, and at 24, have you achieved everything in your list?
Not everything. I want more. I still want to win the big competitions like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

I went to the qualifier for the last Olympics but missed the spot by a hair’s breadth. So I’m hopeful for the next one in 2020.

 

To remain in shape takes discipline, especially dietary, but do you do cheat days?
I do! Usually, I’d go and eat whatever I’m feeling on that day. I’m not sure if this is a cheat-day food but I had waffles with toothsome maple syrup just yesterday.

 

(Outfit: Fendi)

Yeap Wai Kin

(@WAIKINYEAP), WUSHU, 24

 

Martial arts are not without risks; have you ever had an injury that almost pushed you over the edge?
It was a couple of years ago when I sprained my leg ankle during practice. One ligament was completely torn.

At one point, it didn’t seem like it’s going to get any better and it affected me a lot. But after some time, I was able to push through.

 

One of the interesting things about sports like wushu is the costume. What’s a “good costume” to you?
Because this is a Chinese traditional martial art, a good costume needs to employ appropriate emblems such as the motifs of dragon, phoenix and flower.

A good costume carries the spirit of the tradition that will project into every movement.

 

(Outfit: Fendi)

To read the full interview of the 10 athletes, you can grab a copy L'Officiel Malaysia December 2017 / January 2017 "Next, Please!" issue. now available at all major newsstands and bookstores nationwide.

You can also subscribe and download our digital copy on our Subscriptions page.

 

Credits:

Photography: Chintoo
Styling: Jeffrey Yan
Makeup: Cat Yong & Jackee Tung using NARS Cosmetics
Hair: Cody Chua & Chiaki Sabata
 

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