KUALA LUMPUR: The record-breaking performances of several athletes have given the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) the confidence that they can put up a better showing at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August.
At the last Games in Singapore in 2015, Malaysia could only manage a pathetic haul – three golds, two silvers and nine bronzes – in athletics.
“I think we’ve a good chance to secure a 100% improvement rate from the total tally in Singapore. We have been preparing since the last Games and given every athlete the chance to meet the qualifying marks either at home or abroad,” said MAF president Datuk Karim Ibrahim.
The women’s 4x100m quartet of Shereen Samson Vallabouy, Siti Fatimah Mohamed, S. Komalam Shally and Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli were the latest athletes to set a national record. They clocked 45.19 en route to the gold at the Thailand Open in Bangkok last Thursday.
Other athletes who impressed was high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa. He set a national record of 2.30m at the Singapore Open in April while Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian clocked 13.67 in the men’s 110m hurdles in Germany last month to erase the 23-year-old record of 13.73 set by Nur Herman Majid.
Men’s discus thrower Irfan Shamsudin was even more impressive. He shattered his national record of 59.29m three times within a week in three different competitions in Europe last month.
He threw 61.10m at the Hallesch Werfertage Athletics Meet in Halle, Germany, before breaking it again with a 61.56m throw in Turnov, the Czech Republic. He then stretched it to 62.55m at the Austrian Top Meeting.
Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli was also in her element, shattering the 24-year-old women’s 100m record by clocking 11.45 in South Africa.
The other national record breakers were Yap Sean Yee (women’s high jump – 1.81m) and Jackie Wong (men’s hammer – 64.95m).
Said Karim: “It’s still too early to predict our haul. But we will have a better picture of our chances after the Asian Championships (in Bhubaneswar, India, from July 6-9).
“All the South-East Asian countries will be there so it will give us an insight as to where our golds will come from.”
He added that the MAF would be would sending all their Games’ gold prospects to compete in the Asian Championships.
“Only Nauraj will not be competing. He has asked to be exempted as he wants to focus on the World Championships in London (Aug 3-14).
“He is under the Podium Programme. He also has other events in Europe and it will be too taxing for him to travel back to Asia to compete in India,” said Karim.