MALACCA: Sarawak’s Grace Wong Xiu Mei is only 15, but she has the heart of a warrior.
The teenage hammer thrower is undaunted about being the youngest Malaysian athlete to compete in the 21st edition of the Asian Track and Field (ATF) championships in Wuhan City, China from June 3-7.
Grace, whose father is a Malaysian and mother from Papua New Guinea, will be making her debut at the ATF and is among 10 athletes named for the four-day meet.
The others are Harith Ammar Sobri (100m), Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian (110m hurdles), Mohd Irfan Shamsuddin (discus), Jackie Wong (hammer) and Lee Hup Wei (high jump) in the men’s category. The women athletes are Raja Nursheena Raja Azhar (100m hurdles), Casier Renee Kelly Lee (hammer), Noor Amira Nafiah (long jump) and Noor Shahidatun Nadia Mohd Zuki (triple jump).
All the athletes, except for Hup Wei and Noor Shahidatun, will also be featuring in the Singapore SEA Games from June 5-16.
Grace was surprised to be named for the ATF meet.
“The ATF meet will be my first overseas competition at the senior level,” said Grace, who was born in Papua New Guinea.
“Although I’m young and inexperienced, I will not be intimidated by the older and more experienced athletes at the ATF meet.”
Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) technical director Robert Ballard described the ATF meet as “a good exposure for the SEA Games-bound athletes”.
“Our athletes will get a chance to compete against the best in Asia,” said the Australian coach.
“Since the ATF is close to the SEA Games athletics competition, which is from June 7-12, we’re arranging for our athletes to fly directly from Wuhan to Singapore.
“Most of our athletes will arrive in Singapore by June 6 as the SEA Games events they are competing in will only begin on June 9.
“So, our athletes will have more than two days’ rest before they compete in the Games.”