Middle distance runner Shereen to train under mum

Shereen Samson Vallabouy [front] reacts after wins in women 400m final during the 10th Youth Athletics Champonship at MSN Stadium in Bukit Jalil. AZMAN GHANI / The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: National 400m runner Shereen Samson Vallabouy will have a very familiar face coaching her in the national set-up.

Her mother, former national woman 400m runner Josephine Mary, has been hired by the National Sports Council (NSC) as the national elite coach.

The 49-year-old Josephine, who coached the Perak Sports Council from 2011, has signed a two-year contract with the NSC and will start work on Monday at Bukit Jalil.

She replaces 69-year-old K. Jayabalan, who is taking the opposite route – going back to coach in his home state Perak.

Josephine used to train under Jayabalan in the 1980s, when she was a top middle distance runner for the nation – contributing five golds, one silver and one bronze in six SEA Games from 1983 to 1993.

And she is delighted to be the new national elite coach.

“I’m not sure who are the other athletes I’ll be training at Bukit Jalil. But it’s going to be a challenge as I’m replacing a vastly experienced coach like Jayabalan ...  he trained me in the 80s and also my daughter Shereen from 2014,” said Josephine, who has a personal best of 52.65 in the 400m.

“Jayabalan has helped Shereen clock a personal best of 54.26 to win the bronze in the Singapore SEA Games last year.

“I want to continue to help improve the standard and timing of all the 400m women runners for next year’s KL SEA Games.

“I also want Shereen to gradually improve on her time ... I’ve set her a target of clocking 53.50 in competitions this year,” added Josephine, who is married to former national middle distance runner Samson Vallabouy.

Under Jayabalan’s guidance, Shereen also won bronze in the inaugural Asian Youth Championships in Doha, Qatar, last year.

The 18-year-old Shereen is thrilled to be training under her mother.

“I feel comfortable training under my mother ... it’s easy to communicate with her. She used to train me when I was studying in Ipoh in 2013 until I enrolled in the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) in Kuala Lumpur,” said Shereen, who sat for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination last year.
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