MALACCA: Teenager Grace Wong Xiu Mei is the youngest Malaysian track and field athlete to have qualified for next month's Singapore SEA Games.
The 15-year-old Sarawakian is the country’s top ranked woman hammer thrower following a personal best of 55.82m, which she did to win the gold medal at the Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Kangar last June.
Grace, whose father is Malaysian and mother is from Papua New Guinea, is the favourite to land the gold at the SEA Games. Her Sukma feat is better than the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games gold medal effort of 54.96m by Panwat Gimsrang of Thailand.
The Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) Form Two student will compete in the 57th edition of the National Schools Sports Council (MSSM) Track and Field Championships, which begin on Sunday at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca.
At the MSSM meet in Alor Setar last year, Grace bagged three golds and broke two records in the girls’ Under-15 category to clinch the MSSM Sportsgirl award.
She broke the hammer record with a throw of 50.66m and discus mark with a 37.38m effort. She also won the shot putt gold with a distance of 12.80m.
Grace, who was born in Papua New Guinea, is confident of another three-gold showing.
“I doubt there’s anyone who can beat me in the three events,” said Grace, who will compete in the discus and hammer events on Sunday and the shot putt on Tuesday.
Grace is also looking forward to making her debut in the SEA Games.
“There’s no pressure on me although I’m ranked No. 1 in the hammer event in the region. I’ll be more than happy if I can finish on the podium,” said Grace.
Sarawak MSSM technical and development chairman Ting Siew Nguong said they are proud of her progress.
“Grace is focusing more on the hammer event in preparation for the SEA Games,” said Siew Nguong, who is confident Sarawak will emerge as overall champions for the sixth consecutive time.
Sarawak, who bagged 17 golds last year, are eyeing 18 golds this time.
“We have some calibre athletes like Grace, Norris Foo, Queen Ting and Quek Lee Yong to deliver the medals,” he said.
A total of 91 gold medals are at stake in the five-day meet.
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