Improving Shereen wants nothing less than a podium finish in Vietnam

Shereen Samson Vallabouy waiting at the starting lines before compete in women 400m final during the 10th Youth Athletics Champonship at MSN Stadium in Bukit Jalil. AZMAN GHANI / The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Youngster Shereen Samson Vallabouy wants to maintain her strong showing in international meets.

And the 18-year-old Shereen has set her sights on becoming the second Malaysian to win a medal in the girls’ 400m at the 17th Asian Junior Athletics Championships, which begin in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Friday.

Two years ago, Siti Nor Atiqah Abdul Razak created history by bagging Malaysia’s first-ever gold in the biennial championships in Taipei.

Shereen is optimistic of her chances. She has improved by leaps and bounds since training under her coach-cum-mother Josephine Mary, a five-time SEA Games gold medallist, for the last three months.

At last month’s senior-level Taiwan Open, Shereen bagged the silver with a time of 55.28.

Shereen knows it’s tough but she believes she has the ability to be on the podium in Ho Chi Minh City.

“I have always given my best and it will be no different this time.

“Although I will be competing against Asia’s best, my goal is to win at least the bronze. I’m expecting a strong challenge from the runners from the Middle East and India,” said Shereen.

Shereen competed in the inaugural Asian Youth Championships in Doha, Qatar, last May, She clocked 55.14 to bag the bronze.

A month later, she made her debut in the Singapore SEA Games and bagged the bronze with a personal best of 54.26.

Then in July, Shereen surprised everybody by winning the gold in the Asian Schools Championships in Wuhan, China, with a time of 55.60.

Shereen said that her mum’s presence in Ho Chi Minh City would be a big help in her chase for a medal.

“She’s my inspiration. She motivates and encourages me to do my best in every competition,” said Shereen, who will be competing in her second Asian junior meet.

She featured in Taipei two years ago, winning a bronze in the 4x400m.

Malaysia, however, will not be competing in the 4x400m this time.

Besides the 400m, Shereen will also be running in the 200m.

“I don’t think I stand a chance to win a medal. But I’ll try to beat my personal best of 24.25 (which she set in the Kedah Open last year),” she said.

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