11 Young Malaysians You Should Definitely Watch Out For In 2016
1. Farah Ann Abdul Hadi
At 21 years old, the Gold-medal gymnast is already a household name in Malaysia.
With her performance in the Singapore SEA Games in June, Farah Ann bagged two gold medals, one silver and three bronzes at the Games.
She has been chosen to compete in a Test event in Rio in April 2016. One of the 40 gymnasts selected, the International Studies student of Monash University will have to finish among the top 24 to seal her maiden Olympic Games ticket.
2. Zen Cho
Selangor-born, Zen Cho is an award-winning author who has written an internationally-published novel (Sorcerer to the Crown), and an anthology (Spirits Abroad). She has also edited a local science fiction anthology (Cyberpunk Malaysia).
Spirits Abroad, her speculative fiction anthology published by local publisher Fixi Novo, was the joint winner of the 2015 William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, together with The Angel Of Losses by Stephanie Feldman. The award is given to debut fantasy books by the International Association For The Fantastic In The Arts.
3. Xygarathma Lebibi
Although just 19-year-old, Xygarathma has already written her second book titled 'Silent Bird'. It was launched by socio-political activist and writer Marina Mahathir.
The final-year Limkokwing University student published her first book titled 'Nothing, Something, Everything' when she was just 12.
4. Calvin Woo Yoong Shen
Not even old enough to vote, Calvin is the only Malaysian among 60 youngsters from across the Commonwealth who will receive the Queen's Young Leaders Award in 2016.
At only 20 years of age, Calvin develops modules for personal, career, academic and technical programmes, which his team of six uses to teach the underprivileged students aged between 15 and 17.
5. Chris Lau
Chris is a final-year journalism student at KDU College who has a keen interest in taking journeys off the beaten path. As such, the 23-year-old has already been reporting from conflict zones and has been to Syria three times, Afghanistan twice, and once to Lebanon and Iran, as a freelance journalist.
Reporting from the frontlines of the conflict zones, the Sarawakian has faced mortar bombs and snipers and during one of his stints, he also embedded himself with the Free Syrian Army as they marched to the Aleppo frontline.
6. Rayyan Haries
The 25-year-old is no ordinary person. Hailing from Subang Jaya, he is on a mission to volunteer and travel around the world. A university dropout, Rayyan has been volunteering since 2013. His first volunteering stint was in the Philipines after Typhoon Haiyan struck.
He's currently based in Lesbos, Greece, where he serves over 2,000 refugees a day in his soup kitchen as #TheVolunteerCook. Deeply troubled by the plight of refugees, Rayyan flew all the way from Malaysia to open a kitchen to serve them.
7. Amirudin Hizadin
Amirudin, who hails from Johor and was brought up in Kedah, was only recently thrust into the limelight all of a sudden after his song "Mana Hilang 2.6 Bintang" (Where did the 2.6 stars go) went viral instantaneously. The song is a lament about the cost of food, petrol, and electricity in the country, which gave Malaysians depressed about the government some comfort.
The son of an architect and a petty trader, Amirudin has been compared to Bob Dylan.
8. Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman
Famously referred as Asia's best debater, the 23-year-old is a part-time lecturer at Universiti Islam Antarabangsa – the youngest at the varsity. He has also travelled to 25 countries as an international debater and youth development trainer.
Touted as the freedom of speech crusader, Syed Saddiq has accused PM Najib of interfering in investigations into scandals allegedly involving himself.
9. Felicia Binti Mikat
At the mere age of 16, the Sabahan has accomplished what many cannot even imagine. A sprinter with impaired vision, Felicia won 3 Gold medals at the 8th ASEAN Para Games in Singapore.
While she had been active in athletics from an early age, the ASEAN Para Games marked the first time Felicia competed in an international sporting competition. She now hopes to be part of the Malaysian contingent heading off to the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
10. Melvyn Gnai
At 13 years of age, Melvin with his superb fingerstyle guitar playing skills has cemented his name overseas. He only started playing the guitar 2 and a half years ago.
Besides participating and winning in competitions such as the American Protege Music Talent Competition (where he placed 1st in the guitar category in 2014 and 2nd on the ukulele category in 2015), Melvyn has also performed in Amsterdam and New York.
11. Imran Daniel Abdul Hazli
Imran, aged 10, has etched his name in sports history by claiming two singles titles at the World Junior Masters tournament in Turkey in 2015. The uber talented Kuala Lumpur-born, who is coached by his father and former national player Abdul Hazli Zainuddin, has been making waves since August last year.
While he ended his year on a heart-breaking note by coming up short in the Milo-LTAM National Junior Tennis Championships at the National Tennis Centre in Jalan Duta, the unseeded tennis prodigy is confident he will emerge the champion in 2016.
Editor's note: The placements of the people in this list is simply for reference. For example, a person listed #1 here does not indicate that he/she is above the person listed #8.