The jubilant Sarawak Track and Field contingent after emerging as the overall champion of the National Schools Sports Council (MSSM) Track and Field Championships in Alor Setar on Wednesday. - MUSTAFA AHMAD/ The Star
ALOR SETAR: Champions Sarawak attributed their dominance in the National Schools Sports Council (MSSM) Track and Field Championships to a fantastic network of school coaches sticking to a tried-and-tested development programme.
The east coast state emerged overall champions for the fifth consecutive year at this year’s meet, which ended on Wednesday at the Darulaman Stadium here.
Sarawak clinched 17 of the 91 gold medals on offer in the five-day championships to defend their status as the top state in schools athletics.
“We stick to the same winning formula, and everybody connected to the schools athletics scene in Sarawak know their roles and implement it effectively every year,” said Sarawak schools athletics technical chairman Ting Siew Nguong.
“There are over 300 dedicated athletics coaches at the schools in the 11 divisions in Sarawak who work round the year with the young athletes. We practice the same tradition – fairness in selection and training, with everybody given a fair chance to prove their worth.”
While most of the other states only rely on their annual state level schools track and field meet to select their best athletes, Sarawak hold an additional meet towards the end of the year.
“We have been organising an extra inter-division championships for the past 10 years. Having two meets in a year gives us more time to identify and prepare the athletes for the national schools meet,” added Siew Nguong.
There is a balance in the 17 gold medals won by Sarawak – nine from the field and seven from the track events, with the remaining gold coming in the heptathlon.
The bad news for the other states is that Sarawak’s top performers in Kedah like Mauxrena Lindung (Under-12 80m hurdles), Grace Wong (Under-15 discus, shot putt and hammer), Queenie Ting (Under-18 discus and hammer), Quek Lee Yong (Under-18 400m) and Norris Foo (Under-18 100m hurdles) will still be competing in their respective categories at next year’s meet in Malacca.
The only sad reality for Siew Nguong, who has helmed Sarawak’s charge at the MSSM track and field for close to two decades, is that despite annual success, very few of his athletes go on to make a name for themselves at the international scene.
“We (Sarawak Schools Sports Council) only take care of the athletes while they are in school. After that, it is the responsibility of the state sports council and the athletics association.
“Sadly, many good talents from Sarawak have to stop competing after leaving school because they do not come from well-to-do families and need to find a source of living.”
On the organisation front, the MSSM Track and Field Championships 2014 organisers pulled off a successful job despite the disruptive weather throughout the meet.
The organisers need to be praised for their decision to re-run all the 100m heats that were disrupted by a bug in the electronic starters system on the opening day.
It would have been easier to just sweep the entire issue under the carpet and carry on with the following events.
But common sense prevailed and the spirit of sportsmanship saw the organisers choose to provide the unfairly disqualified athletes a second chance to compete at the expense of a backlog in the schedule.
A total of 18 meet records were broken, 12 of them in the track events, during the five-day championships.
MSSM TRACK AND FIELD 2014 RECORD BREAKERS
400m: Luqmanul Hakim (Pah) 49.79
800m: Luqmanul Hakim (Pah) 1:59.70
1500m: Devin Roy Vincent (Nse) 4:12.48
2000m steeplechase: Devin Roy Vincent (Nse) 6:18.57
4x400m: Selangor (Muhd Nur Faris, Muhd Aidil Amin, Muhd Ilham Suhaimi, Willy Gew) 3:27.33
Long jump: Andre Anura (Sab) 6.89m
Triple jump: Andre Anura (Sab) 14.29m
Discus: Faris Hazim Jamaluddin (Sel) 49.81m
200m: Nor Aliyah Rahman (Joh) 26.84
4x200m: Sabah (Rujiah Jahamin, Aveyenda Aron, Callista Violetta Audin, Jaenisa Mutin) 1:51.40
4x400m: Kuala Lumpur (Mandy Phang, Intan Sarah Anisah, Winnie Eng, Zaimah Atifah) 4:04.03
Discus: Grace Wong (Swk) 37.38m
Hammer: Grace Wong (Swk) 50.66m
200m: Noor Eewan Syafiqah (Prk) 25.00
400m: Nazatul Nadira Rusli (Ter) 57.07
4x100m: Perak (Goh Pei Ching, Noor Eewan Syafiqah, Kang Woan Yi, Kirthana Ramasamy) 48.24
4x400m: Terengganu (Siti Nur Afiqah, Nabilah Syazwina, Nur Shahira Muliadi, Nazatul Nadira Rusli) 3:57.07
Discus: Queenie Ting (Swk) 44.02m