Big dreams for young athletes

AS a small girl, Nur Ayuni Ibrahim used to admire her eldest sister Nor Shazaty Sakina’s shiny gold medals which she won for athletics. Now, the pint-sized nine-year-old from SK Pantai, Negri Sembilan aspires to win medals of her own, and has unsurprisingly chosen athletics under the One Student One Sport Programme at her school.

Nur Ayuni, the fourth among nine children in her family said, “I chose athletics because my coach V Sasitharan says I have good potential to excel in this sport.”

Nur Ayuni will compete in the girls’ 60 metres hurdles and 4 x 100m race for the Seremban Schools District (MSSDS) athletics meet to be held from March 21 to 29.

Her schoolmate Muhd Shafiq Ibrahim,10, will compete in four events in the MSSDS namely in 100m, long jump, shot putt and 4 x 100m.

Muhd Shafiq said, “I like athletics because it has various events which I watched on television during the Commonwealth and Asian Games last year.”

Sasitharan explained that athletics was compulsory for all pupils and acted as the base for the One Student One Sport Programme.

“During the first two lessons on Thursdays, pupils participate in the sport of their choice, namely athletics, hockey, football, netball, volleyball and chess. Pupils focus on one sport throughout the year and they also train under their various coaches after school hours for competitions,” he said.

Although the school lacks proper hurdles and high jump equipment, it never fails to send a team to compete in the MSSDS each year. Sasitharan proudly shared that with an enrolment of only 330 pupils, and equipped with only a football field with a 200m athletics grass track, the school’s team still bring home medals — no easy feat as the competition is stiff with over 100 primary schools participating.

“In hockey, under the guidance of teacher Zulkifli Awang, we were the boys’ Under-12 runners-up in 2009 as well as champions in 2010 and 2011 in the MSSDS Zone One with 20 competing teams.”

“SK Pantai has also excelled in chess where the pupils have won silver medals in the MSSDS and state schools meet (MSSNS) in 2008 and 2009 as well as an individual MSSDS gold medal in 2008,” he said.

Surprisingly, the two-time district hockey champion team trains without goal posts. The netball and volleyball teams also train on makeshift courts on the bitumen surface.

However, the teachers’ dedication and pupils’ commitment to excel in sports is evident. One needs to only look at the school’s trophy cabinet, which has been steadily welcoming new additions and will probably have something new to show visitors year after year.

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