KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Two national fencing athletes, Natasha Ezzra Abu Bakar and younger sister Nur Afrina want to use the home ground advantage in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games to help the national contingent to raise the medal tally.

For Natasha Ezzra, 26, the 29th SEA Games gives her an opportunity to win in the Foil event after failing at the quarter-final stage at the Singapore SEA Games 2015 when she lost narrowly to host athlete, Wenying Wang with the score at 14-15.

“My physical and mental condition is at 100 per cent level and I believe I am performing my best to go for the first gold at the SEA Games. I want to focus and put up my best performance in front of the Malaysian supporters, she told Bernama today.

The bronze medalist at the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia considered the competitor from Vietnam and Singapore as the main contenders at the Games this time around but the Johor-born athlete was confident she had a good chance of achieving her target.

On her involvement in fencing, the student pursuing a degree in education at Universiti Putra Malaysia said her interest in the sport began after her uncle, who is a member of the coaching team at the Sekolah Sukan Tunku Mahkota Ismail (SSTMI) in Bandar Penawar, Johor introduced the sport to her and her brother who was then 14 years old.

Besides Nur Afrina and I, three of my other siblings are also involved in fencing, said the second of six siblings.

Beginning to compete in fencing as early as when she was 13 years old, the SSTMI student admitted that she felt nervous at the beginning but considered it as normal because what was important was for her to put up her best performance.

I want to gain enough experience to compete at the Games, she said.

Nur Afrina said the success achieved by her elder sister, Nur Natasha had inspired her to indulge in the sport and she is determined to become a successful fencing athlete one day.

National fencing coach, Rao Bin said he was impressed by the determination demonstrated by the two siblings in the mission to succeed in the largest sports in the Southeast Asian region.

“Natasha who is the country’s main prospect for a gold medal has a good chance to win in the foil event while Nur Afrina is seen to have a strong potential in fencing sport in future, said the coach who targeted a gold medal for the national fencing camp.

Fencing, which will be held from Aug 21 to 23 at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) here offers six gold medals.

The official opening of the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games is scheduled for Aug 19 while the closing is scheduled for Aug 30.