Big strides after a poor start


FRUSTRATION over lacklustre performance almost made her quit athletics a year ago. 

Discouraged by her disappointments, Ho Yen Kuan of Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) wanted to throw in the towel and return to an ordinary school for her secondary education.  

Ho clearing a hurdle during a hurdling drill.

Today, the 16-year-old is glad that she persevered, as she is the newly crowned national junior girl's champion.  

“Although I gave my best in training, I did not achieve anything outstanding. I was very disheartened with the way that I was performing. But my coach (Ishtiaq Mobarak) told me to be patient and results will eventually show. I made the right decision taking his advice,” said Ho from Sungai Long, Selangor.  

Following her three-year training stint under National Sports Council junior development coach for athletics Ishtiaq Mobarak, Ho had her first major triumph when she leaped 11.43m in the girls' triple jump at the National Junior Athletics Championships held in Penang in September to claim the gold medal.  

“The win came as a surprise. For a start, I had a poor first jump (10.50m). But, I improved on the subsequent jumps. I was delighted when I leaped 11.43m on my final (sixth) attempt,” she explained.  

Ho attributed her success to Ishtiaq's guidance.  

“I am very fortunate to have a coach of his calibre. He has corrected my running and jumping techniques,” said Ho.  

After she completed her Form One at the SM Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah in Kajang, she was roped into BJSS in 2004.  

When she started, she only managed to leap 4.22m and 10.78m in long jump and triple jump, respectively.  

Ho limbering up beforetraining.

“We have been monitoring her progress. Despite being a latecomer, she has been showing gradual progress as we have laid a strong foundation for developing her a thletic abilities with the systematic and versatile multi-lateral training regime in line with her physical growth,” said Ishtiaq, who is also a panel member of the Core Sports working committee for athletics development. 

Last season, she recorded a personal best of 11m in the triple jump at the Kuala Lumpur Open.  

“She has proven to be very competitive in the triple jump and long jump without any emphasis on early specialisation. So far, she has met her goals wearing a pair of usual sprinting spikes. She will definitely do better with proper jumping spikes,” added Ishtiaq.  

Prior to the National Junior Athletics Championships this season, she has bettered her personal best mark on two occasions at the Negri Sembilan Open (11.30m) and Malaysia Games (11.32m).  

She also finished fifth in triple jump at the Malaysia School Sports Council (MSSM) Athletics Championships for the girls' Under-18 category and Malaysia Games (Sukma) this year.  

“Early this year, we identified her flaws in approaching the take off board. She was always behind the ideal position. When she corrected her take off and jumping flight with corrective remedies, she shown results immediately. Now, she has to work on perfecting her landing,” said Ishtiaq.  

This year, Ho took part in her first overseas meet at the Thailand Sports Schools Games held at Chonburi in August.  

She clinched two silvers in the girls' Under-16 long jump and triple jump.  

At the meet, she equalled her long jump personal best of 5.05m and registered 11m in the triple jump. 

Her immediate aim is to win at the MSSM next season.  

In addition, Ishtiaq also plans to expose her to 100m hurdling. 

“We are in no rush to push her into hurdling. She will be in it when she is ready. It is important to do a good job at arming her with the proper hurdling technique. Besides keeping her option open on her preferred specialised event in the future, learning hurdling skill will also strengthten her physically, boosting performance,” he said. 

YOUNG TALENT 

HO YEN KUAN 

Age: 16 years 

School: Bukit Jalil Sports School(Form 4) 

Previous School: Sultan Abdul AzizShah (SAAS), Kajang 

Hometown: Sungai Long, Selangor 

Height: 1.71m 

Weight: 56 kg 

Events: Triple jump, long jump 

Favourite Event: Triple jump 

Personal Best: Triple jump(11.43m), long jump (5.05m) 

Favourite Athlete: Ngew Sin Mei 

Favourite Food: Mum's cooking 

Favourite Past Time: Shopping,watching movies 

Favourite Hangout: MidValleyMegamall 

Ambition: Accountant 

ACHIEVEMENTS 

2005 

- MSSM girls' Under-15 triple jumpbronze medal 

2006 

- Thailand Sports Schools Gamesgirls' Under-16 triple jump and longjump silver medals 

- National Junior AthleticsChampionships girls' triple jumpgold medal

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