PETALING JAYA: Malaysia enjoyed a golden double on the third day of the 17th Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Vietnam.
Triple jumper R. Kirthana and 110m hurdles Mohd Rizzua Haizad lifted Malaysian spirits with their gold medals at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday.
Malaysia also won a silver in the boys’ 4x100m relay after clocking 39.91.
Kirthana leapt to a personal best of 13.20m in the girls’ triple jump. Kazakhstan’s Mariya Ovchnikova (13.19m) and compatriot Anna Gorodkova (12.97m) took silver and bronze.
The Perak girl improved on her personal best by seven centimetres (13.13m) to also qualify for the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, from July 19-24. The qualifying mark is 13.00m.
“I’ve been struggling to do well in competitions this year because of silly errors. But I want to thank coach Victor Stonikov for helping me improve my technique in jumps,” said Kirthana.
“I also want to thank my parents for supporting and encouraging me. It was the best achievement of my life.
“Last year, I won the gold in the Asean Schools Games in Brunei with a jump of 12.69m. Now I’m the best junior jumper in Asia. What more can I ask for?”
Rizzua later captured the second gold of the day for Malaysia when he won the boys’ 110m hurdles in 14.00.
He effort was also enough for him to qualify for the world juniors as it beat the qualifying mark of 14.20.
Malaysia have now bagged three golds medals. On Saturday, Khairul Hafiz Jantan won the boys’ 100m gold with a personal best of 10.36.
National chief coach Zainal Abas was thrilled with Kirthana and Rizzua’s achievements.
“Kirthana is now ready to replace national number one triple jumper Noor Amira (Nafiah), who underwent a knee operation recently,” said Zainal.
“Rizzua has also made the country proud by winning the 110m hurdles gold. It’s good to see Malaysia becoming one of the top athletics nations in Asia.”
This is fast turning into Malaysia’s best outing in the Under-19 meet.
After Kirthana and Rizzua’s heroics, Malaysia’s Khairul, Badrul Hisyam Abdul Manap, Muhd Haiqal Hanafi and Asnawi Hashim added a silver in the boys’ 4x100m with a time of 39.91.
Noor Shafie Mohd Noor won the second silver medal in the boys’ high jump event with a jump of 2.14m.
Khairul stayed on course for another medal after qualifying for the 200m final by clocking a personal best of 21.01.
Noor Eewan Syafiqah Mohd Sabri and Shereen Samson Vallabouy have also qualified for today’s girls’ 200m final.
In the semi-finals, Noor Eewan clocked 24.95 and Shereen 25.07.
The other Malaysian athletes who have qualified for Monday’s finals are Jiyaudeen Asif Rahman (boys’ 800m) and Savinder Kaur (girls’ 800m).