SISTERS Nur Najiha and Nur Nabila Azman Hashim have waited six years for their chance to shine again at the Sea Games, and they will finally get the opportunity when chess makes a return to the biennial competition in the Philippines next month.
The duo represented Malaysia in the 2011 (Indonesia) and 2013 (Myanmar) editions. Chess was not contested in the last two editions in Singapore (2015) and Kuala Lumpur (2017).
Najiha tasted success in the Sea Games, when 12, by winning bronze in the mixed doubles with Lim Yee Weng in 2011.
The pair, who will be competing in the short-format blitz discipline this time, are eyeing the podium in the Philippines.
“We were sad when chess was not included in 2015 and 2017, and wondered when the sport would return to the Sea Games,” said Najiha, who turns 21 this year.
“When we found out that chess would be included this year, we felt really honoured and at the same time determined to prove we can perform at a high level and win a medal.”
Nabila expects tough competition from Indonesia and the Philippines.
“Our goal this time is to win a medal each, maybe silver and bronze, hopefully, better. We will be competing in the blitz (individual) event,” said 22-year-old Nabila.
“A standard format chess match can last four hours but for the blitz event it is only 10 minutes long, so we have to be sharp and train accordingly.
“It will be a round-robin event. Players from Indonesia and the Philippines will be the ones to watch.
“However, we are prepared and will do our best to beat them.”
Nabila and Najiha are both studying sports science and accounting at Universiti Teknologi Mara.
The siblings were introduced to the game by their father and have been actively participating in competitions since five.
The Sea Games squad also features Yeoh Li Tian, a potential gold medallist in the men’s blitz event, and Tan Li Ting.
For the record, Malaysians have never won gold or silver in the Sea Games. They returned with bronze from the 2011 and 2013 editions.