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SAILING: Khairulnizam going to London

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KHAIRULNIZAM Affendy became only the second Malaysian sailor to qualify for an Olympic Games when he earned the country a quota spot for London at the World Laser Championship in Boltenhagen, Germany on Thursday.

The 19-year-old grabbed one of 12 spots still available for those who had yet to qualify and round out the 48-sailor fleet for the men's one-person dinghy laser event.

  Although Khairulnizam finished only 35th overall in the silver class (second-tier) in the week-long race in Boltenhagen, he was fourth among those yet to qualify for London with another six having been secured by sailors from the gold class.

  Khairulnizam follows in the footsteps of Kevin Lim, who competed in three Olympic campaigns from 2000 to 2008 in the laser event, achieving his best result of 24th on his debut in Sydney.

  Affendy Abdullah, Khairulnizam's father and Malaysian Yachting Association general manager, said his son is one of the youngest in the fleet to make it to London.

  "Considering that we made a late start to qualify for the Olympics, we have done well to get one sailor to London. Khairulnizam will be one of the youngest there in the laser event.

  "Because of his age, we had been targeting him to qualify for Rio De Janeiro (in 2016) but he has exceeded expectations by qualifying for London. It will be good exposure for him and we hope he can do better in Rio as he is not expected to win a medal in London.

   "But you can never rule anything out in sailing. Anything can happen in London, you might find yourself in the lead or trailing far behind. That's sailing," said Affendy.

   Khairulnizam is the 27th Malaysian to have secured a quota spot for London with sailing becoming the eighth sport to have Malaysian representation.

  It may not end with Khairulnizam as Malaysians will be attempting to secure Olympic places in three more sailing events this week.

  He will stay on in Boltenhagen to assist his sister, Khairunneeta and teammate Nur Amirah Hamid in their bid to secure one of the nine Olympic spots available at the women's World Laser Radial Championship on May 15-20.

  The men's and women's two-person dinghy of Ku Anas Ku Zamil-Hafizuddin Mazelan and Khairunnisa Affendy-Norashikin Sayed are after seven and five spots respectively at the 470 World Championships, which began yesterday and end on May 19, in Barcelona.


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