GOKHUL Raj Balakrishnan had his late father firmly in his thoughts during the 2016 Larian Hari Keputeraan Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah in Kuala Kangsar.
The 19-year-old from Taiping said he dedicated the win to his father, who died from a heart attack last Thursday, adding that he said a silent prayer for his father as he reached the finish line at Pavilion Square to win the 10km men’s category last Sunday.
“I want to make him proud. He always encouraged me to do my best and to be the best I could be,” he said when met.
“It is also my dream to represent the country in track and field one day,” said the state athlete.
“I’ve been taking part in many running events since I was little,” said the eldest of four siblings.
“It was only three years ago that I started taking part in competitions,” he said, adding that he is now training under former national coach N. Gunasageran.
“The last race I participated in was during the National Championships held in Universiti Malaya where I came in fourth,” he added.
The first person to reach the finish line during the event was Muhammad Syazwan Shah Jahan, from SMK Georgetown, Penang.
The 15-year-old state runner who took part in the 7km category said it was his first time taking part in the event.
“I’ve been taking part in races since I was in Form One, though this is my first time competing in Kuala Kangsar,” he said.
“I hope to get more experience through similar events,” he added.
The event saw the participation of some 5,000 people running in categories such as 15km, 7km and a 2km VVIP fun run for men and women.
The competitive categories were flagged off by Sultan Nazrin, with winners taking home medals and prizes.
Sultan Nazrin, his wife Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Zara Salim and their children Raja Azlan Muzzaffar Shah and Raja Nazira Safya, then took part in the fun run.
They were joined by 2016 Paralympic Games medallists Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi, Abdul Latif Romly, Siti Noor Radiah Ismail and Rio Olympic silver medal diver Cheong Jun Hoong.
Many of those present whipped out their smartphones to take pictures of the sporting heroes.
Also present at the run were Raja Datuk Seri Yong Sofia Sultan Azlan Shah, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, State Secretary Datuk Seri Abdul Puhat Mat Nayan, state department heads and local leaders.