ALOR SETAR: Sarawak are still the undisputed kings in the National Schools Sports Council (MSSM) Track and Field Championships after being crowned overall champions for the fifth year in a row at the Darulaman Stadium here.
The athletics squad from the east Malaysian state completed the five-day meet with 17 gold, eight silver and 13 bronze medals.
Selangor finished a distant second with a 11-12-7 haul, while Johor were third with 10-13-9.
Sarawak's 17 gold medals in Alor Setar is just one short of their projected 18-gold target, but the Sarawak state schools athletics technical chairman Ting Siew Nguong is not complaining.
“The majority of the events we won in Alor Setar are the same as the ones we won in Kuantan last year. I am happy that Sarawak managed to maintain our overall level of performance to be crowned champions for the fifth year running,” said Siew Nguong.
Sarawak had clinched the overall title with a 18-gold haul in Kuantan last year.
There was double joy for Sarawak as their 14-year-old athlete Grace Wong was selected the best female athlete.
Grace, a Form Two student at the Sarikei High School, broke the MSSM meet record in both the girls' Under-15 discus and hammer throw events. She also won a gold in the shot putt.
“It is a big surprise for me to win the best athlete award. I was already overjoyed at breaking two meet records in Kedah, but this award is the icing on the cake,” said the soft-spoken Grace.
Grace has never failed to supply gold medals for Sarawak since making her MSSM debut as a 10-year-old in 2010.
She won the Under-12 shot putt event in 2010, 2011 and 2012 before supplying the discus and hammer throw victories in the Under-15 category in 2013 and this year for a total of eight gold medals to her name.
Another favourite for the best overall female athlete award, Perak's Noor Eewan Syafiqah, had to be satisfied with just the best girls' Under-18 athlete award for her feat in winning the gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m events.
Negri Sembilan's Devin Roy Vincent admitted that his life will not be the same after being crowned the best male athlete of the championships on Wednesday.
The 15-year-old SMK Bukit Mewah Seremban student shot to fame after breaking the meet records in both the 1,500m and 2,000m steeplechase events. He also won a silver in the 800m.
“I am speechless with joy because I came to Alor Setar as an unknown and will return as the best schoolboy athlete in the country,” said a beaming Devin.
“The important thing for me now is to keep my feet on the ground and continue to train hard and prepare for future challenges. Sukma (Malaysia Games) is coming up this month and I will be competing in the 800m together with my elder brother Edison Roy.”
Selangor's Faris Hazim Jamaluddin, who broke the boys' Under-18 discus record, won the best athlete award in his category.
Sprinters Haziq Haiqal Yuki of Terengganu and Nor Aliyah Abdul Rahman of Johor picked up the best boys' and girls' Under-12 athlete awards respectively for accomplishing a sprint double victory.
Fourteen out of the 16 participating teams at this year's meet returned with at least one gold medal. Labuan, who collected one bronze medal, and Putrajaya, with no medals to show, are the only ones who did not produce any champions in Kedah.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Best overall athlete (Male): Devin Roy Vincent (Nse)
Best overall athlete (Female): Grace Wong (Swk)
Best athlete boys' Under-12: Haziq Haiqal Yuki (Ter)
Best athlete girls' Under-12: Nor Aliyah Abdul Rahman (Joh)
Best athlete boys' Under-15: Devin Roy Vincent (Nse)
Best athlete girls' Under-15: Grace Wong (Swk)
Best athlete boys' Under-18: Faris Hazim Jamaluddin (Sel)
Best athlete girls' Under-18: Noor Eewan Syafiqah (Prk)