SEVENTEEN-year-old Grace Wong Xiu Mei is happy she “killed three birds” with one hammer throw.
She kept the family tradition going when she won the gold and shattered the SEA Games record with an effort of 59.24m at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
For someone so young, she did all that with strength and grace despite having lost her mother to an illness in April.
Grace is happy she has managed to do what her uncle – Wong Tee Kui (her father’s younger brother) – did 16 years ago when he won gold at KL 2001.
What made her even happier is that she got the gold by upstaging defending champion Mingkamon Koomphon of Thailand.
Grace’s effort shattered the Thai’s previous mark of 56.57m, set at Singapore 2015, by more than 2m.
Mingkamon had to settle for silver this time with a 56.15m effort. Another Thai, Panwat Gimsrang, took the bronze (56.06m).
Five athletes took part in the event and Malaysia’s Nurfazira Jalaludin finished fourth with 53.37m.
Grace, who was a bronze medallist at Singapore 2015, dedicated the medal to her late mother (Lina Awaru of Papua New Guinea).
“I miss my mum very much. Every time I take part in competitions, I think of her,” said Grace, whose father (Wong Tee Ing), is a businessman in Sarawak.
“I’m also happy to keep my family tradition going in the event at the SEA Games. My uncle is a five-time SEA Games champion and he last won it 16 years ago in KL. I’m honoured to win the gold in my country.
“I must thank my uncle for his support and for motivating me. I was confident of breaking the Games record as my national record is 60.99m, which I set in South Korea in April,” added Grace, who had two training stints in Mokpo, South Korea, in February and last month.
Malaysia are a dominant force in the hammer events in the South-East Asian region.
On Wednesday, Jackie Wong Siew Cheer also broke the men’s Games record with an effort of 65.90m en route to the gold medal.
National coach Gu Yuan is glad that all the hard work in training by Jackie and Grace have paid off.
“Grace is still young and the future looks bright for her. I want her to hit the 62m mark next year,” said Gu Yuan.
Meanwhile, Iskandar Alwi rewrote his national record in the men’s pole vault after clearing 5.25m for the bronze medal.
His old mark was 5.20m, which he set at the South Korea International Pole Vault Championship in Seoul in 2015.
He tried – but failed – to set a new SEA Games record of 5.35m.
Thailand made it a 1-2 in pole vault. Porranot Purahong broke his own SEA Games record by clearing 5.35m, erasing his previous mark of 5.30m set at Laos 2009.
Patsapong Amsamang settled for silver with 5.30m.