Priority to improve personal bests at Asian schools meet

PETALING JAYA: National long and triple jumpers will have to better their personal bests if they hope to be among the medallists at the inaugural Asian Schools Track and Field Championships, which begins at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan on Sunday.

Coach Zainal Abas said it is hard to gauge the possibility of his charges winning medals without knowing who are the competitors coming for the meet.

“The priority is to improve on their personal bests. We don’t know what the competition will be like, especially from powerhouse China,” said Zainal, who has four athletes under his charge – Noor Shahidatul Nadia Mohd Zuki, R. Kirthana, Nik Farizal Erman Nik Abdul Hadi and Mohd Qayyum Mohd Izlan.

Shahidatul, who has a personal best of 12.99m in the triple jump, made the final of the World Youth Championships in Ukraine in July. However, she could only clear 12.59m in the meet to finish 12th.

China had two triple jumpers in the final in Ukraine, with Wang Rong winning the silver medal with 13.69m and Zhao Jing finishing eighth with 13.03m.

However, the two Chinese triple jumpers are not listed in the provisional list of athletes competing in Kuantan.

“Besides Shahidatul, we also have good prospects in Kirthana and Nik Farizal. But they must tune their minds to setting new personal bests in the Kuantan meet,” said Zainal.

“If they can do that, then a medal is a possibility.”

Nine countries – and 183 athletes – will compete in the meet. Malaysia will be fielding 35 athletes.

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