Hurdler Rayzam rues the absence of proteges

Overjoyed: Rayzam Shah celebrating after winning in the 110m hurdles final at the 2017 KL SEA Games.

KUALA LUMPUR: Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian has been the country’s top men’s 110m hurdler for the last 13 years – and he is not happy about it.

The two-time SEA Games gold medallist believes it is time other calibre hurdlers step up to replace him.

The Sabahan, who holds the national record of 13.67, said he is already 32 and would retire in 2022 after the Hangzhou Asian Games in China.

“There are two young hurdlers, Mohd Rizzua (Haizad) of Sarawak and Benedict (Ian Gawok) of Sabah, who were expected to replace me. But, sad to say, both have not made much progress.

“The duo have not managed to dip below 14s in competitions and this is not a good indication for the future, ” said Rayzam.

Rizzua made his international debut in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 2017 and clocked 14.59 to finish seventh in the final.

The 23-year-old Rizzua has a personal best of 14.20 which he did in 2018 but has failed to better the mark since. The 21-year-old Benedict has a personal best of 14.35 and he too is struggling to improve his timing.

Rayzam, who trains on his own in Kota Kinabalu as he does not have a coach, said he hoped more junior hurdlers would emerge from Sukma (Malaysia Games), which had been scheduled for July but has since been postponed.

“Another young hurdler Mohd Naim (Abdullah from Perak) can also be a top hurdler in the country as he has a good technique in clearing hurdles, ” said Rayzam, whose training programme is drawn up by German coach Jan Klaus Erasmus May, who is based in Leipzig, via e-mail.

“I hope one of the three youngsters will be able to dip below 14 seconds in the next two or three years.

“For now, I will continue to represent Malaysia in competitions and I want to win a gold in next year’s SEA Games in Hanoi after failing in Philippines.”

In the Manila SEA Games, he had to settle for silver despite clocking the same time of 13.97 as Filipino gold medallist Clinton (Bautista).

Rayzam made a golden debut in the Korat SEA Games in 2007. He bagged silvers in Indonesia (2011), Myanmar (2013) and Singapore (2015) before netting another gold in KL 2017.

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