Panic stations, Malaysian athletics

NAYPYITAW: Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) pressed the panic button after their athletes failed to retain gold in the men’s 20km walk and women’s hammer events.

And MAF are now in danger of failing to achieve their five-gold medal target for the SEA Games.

On Sunday, walker Lo Choon Sieng failed to retain his 20km walk gold and on Monday the Malaysian domination in the women’s hammer event also ended.

Malaysia have been dominating the women’s hammer event since 2005. Siti Shahidah Abdullah was a two-time gold medallist in Manila (2005) and Korat (2007) while Tan Song Hwa also bagged golds in Laos (2009) and Palembang (2011).

But both Siti and Song Hwa have retired.

And the pressure was on towering debutant Casier Renee Kelly to win the gold in the women’s hammer event.

The 20-year-old Casier from Bintulu achieved a personal best of 53.12m at the Wunna Theikdi main stadium in Naypyitaw, however she had to be satisfied with a silver.

Only five athletes took part in the hammer event and Thailand’s Panwat Gimsrang, who turns 19 on Jan 18, registered a personal best of 54.96m to bag the gold.

The bronze also went to a Thai - Mingkamon Koomphon, who hurled a distance of 51.82m.

Another Malaysian hammer thrower Nur Fazira Jalaludin, who also made her Games debut here, had a miserable outing after failing to register a single throw, after all six of her attempts were faulted.

Casier said she could have won the gold in her fourth throw as she hurled a distance of 55m but the throw was not registered because she stepped off the throwing area.

“Although I failed to help Malaysia win the event, which we have dominated since 2005, I am happy with my performance because I achieved a personal best,” said Casier as her previous best was 52.50m.

The 18-year-old Fazira said that chilly conditions affected her performance.

“My body was stiff and I created faults in all six throws. It is my worst ever performance since I took up hammer throwing four years ago,” said Fazira, who hails from Rawang.

MAF president Datuk Zainal Ahmad Abidin looked flustered after Casier, who was ranked number one South-East Asia, failed to win the gold.

“I don’t know whether we will be able to achieve the target of five golds after failing to retain golds in the men’s walk and women’s hammer events.

“I hope the other athletes will be able to rise to the occasion to deliver gold,” said Zainal.

MAF set a target of seven golds in July but reduced it to five last month.

Malaysia’s worst ever outing in athletics was four golds in the 1975 Bangkok Seap Games.

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