It’s the last hurrah for volleyball player Cheoh Jia Ming as he makes a last ditch attempt to win a medal for the men’s national team in his fifth Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.

The 26-year-old veteran, who has been competing since the 2009 Laos SEA Games, was thankful to coach Tay Yeu Siong for the opportunity to be a part of the 29th edition hosted here.

“I will be all out in this as this may be my last SEA Games. I feel very proud to be able to compete as it will be hosted here in Kuala Lumpur. 

“This was also one of the reasons why I had decided to give one last push before I retire and I do want to feel what it’s like to compete here,” said Cheoh.

Under coach Tay, Cheoh believes that the national team are on the right track and have what it takes to break the 16 year jynx.

According to Cheoh, the development programme has been a big boost as well to enhance their medal chances.

“As you know, the national team has not won the medal since 2001. We have a young team which went through a long-term development programme so I think we stand a chance to win at least a medal and I definitely want to make it count this time.

“A few years back, we had a lot of challenges as there wasn’t a proper training regime and there were lots of coaches coming in and out.

“But with the current national coach who has been with us since the 2015 Games, there’s progress and proper training.

“Coach Yap is a good coach and I really appreciate his efforts and sacrifices as he’s originally from Sarawak. The juniors have deferred their studies as well so it’s the team’s dedication and development programme we should thank,” added Cheoh.

Rejoining the national team since last month, Cheoh, who admitted that he is still not at his best, is now fully committed to the team and will be joining the trip to Taiwan.

“I have taken unpaid leave from my current job as I need to work harder in order to regain my composure and fitness for the Games. 

“From a short period of time, I can see that these batch of players have a strong fighting spirit and they are hungry to prove themselves.

“I believe we will peak at the right time but as for now it’s a step-by-step process to improve our skills and fitness level,” said Cheoh.

With the possibilty of team captain – Sim Jian Qin – returning from an ankle injury, Cheoh added it will be a boost for the team.

“Sim is our top striker and without him our team still lack some attacking flare. I hope Sim will be able to recover as soon as possible and with the coach stating that he may resume next week, it’s good news.

The national team have a perfect four of four wins in their final round robin fixture after beating X Bukit Jalil 3-1 at the Pre SEA Games Volleyball Championship today.

And they will meet MBSA – a full Thai team from the Thailand Air Force club –  in the final on Sunday (23 July – 11am) at the MBSA Indoor Volleyball Court in Shah Alam.

While AFVC will meet X Bukit Jalil for the 3rd and fourth placing at 9am. – BY ALVIN OH

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