Nauraj qualifies for Asian Games but misses out on gold

Nauraj Singh Randhawa qualified for the Asian Games in Incheon, later in September with a 2.21m effort but failed to win gold at the Malaysian Open athletics championships. - LIM BENG TATT / The Star.

KANGAR: National high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa qualified for the Incheon Asian Games but failed to capture the gold medal on the opening day of the 91st Malaysian Open athletics championships.

The SEA Games high jump champion’s 2.21m leap, a personal best effort, at the Tuanku Syed Putra Stadium on Wednesday was enough to secure him qualification for the Asiad in September. The qualifying mark is 2.19m.

However, the 22-year-old Nauraj, who was representing Johor, was powerless to stop Syria’s Majd Eddin Ghazal from running away with the gold with a 2.26m effort. Majd also shattered the meet record of 2.23m set by Singapore’s Jean-Claude Rabbath in 2006.

“My main target in Perlis was to qualify for my first Asian Games, and I am happy to have achieved it,” said Nauraj, whose previous best result was the 2.20m jump he made at last year’s Malaysian Open.

“I am a little disappointed not to win the gold and break the meet record, but I lost to a very good athlete. I have a month now to rectify my weaknesses before competing in next month’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games.”

Majd’s feat was one of three meet records – all by foreign athletes – set on the opening day.

SEA Games champion Maria Natalia Londa of Indonesia cleared 6.37m to smash the 6.27m record in the women’s long jump.

Malaysia’s No. 1 Noor Amira Nafiah had to settle for the silver despite a personal best 6.16m effort.

The third record of the day was set by Thailand’s Subenrat Insaeng in the women’s discus. Her 53.09m throw bettered the previous mark of 46.84m.

Kento Tarada (10.44) and Tatsuya Yamakuchi (10.64) ensured a 1-2 finish for Japan in the blue riband men’s 100m sprint. Terengganu’s Harith Aammar Sobri was Malaysia’s best finisher, clocking 10.74 to clinch the bronze.

In the women’s 100m, Malaysia’s Zaidatul Husna Zulkifli lost out to Singapore’s Shanti Veronica Pereira in a close battle for gold.

Shanti crossed the finish line first in 11.95, ahead of Zaidatul (12.06) and Indonesia’s Dedeh Irawati (12.23).

“I tried my best to gun for a gold but it was just not my day. I kept pace with her (Shanti) for most of the race, but got beaten at the finish line,” said a dejected Zaidatul.

With Sri Lanka’s Chanaka Masushan and Nepal’s Hari Kumar Rimal winning the men’s 400m and 5,000m events respectively, it was left to Malacca’s Kartikh Jayaraman to save the blushes for Malaysia. Karthik was the only Malaysian man to win on the track after triumphing in the 3,000m steeplechase.
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