KUALA LUMPUR: They have been fierce rivals. And then they became thick friends.
Now, national long jumper Noor Shahidatun Nadia Mohd Zuki is feeling sad for her best friend of 10 years, national triple jumper R. Kirthana.
Kirthana, from Bagan Serai in Perak, is having poor vision because of a problem in her eye that has been plaguing her for three years now.
The 23-year-old Shahidatun from Kedah said she sympathised with her friend, whom she has known since the National Schools Sports Council (MSSM) Championships in Ipoh in 2010 but believes she will be back.
“She is a fighter as she is a strong person, who never gives up chasing her dreams in life, ” said Shahidatun.
“I pray that her vision will improve and she will be able to feature in competitions again.”
Kirthana is the country’s top woman triple jumper. She did well to finish a creditable fifth in the Asian Championships in Doha, Qatar last year.
“She was my rival in long and triple jumps competitions since the MSSM days. I used to beat her to win gold medals in MSSM and also Sukma (Malaysia Games) but eventually, she beat me to win golds especially in triple jump, ” said Shahidatun.
“We became very good friends. I’ve gone to her parents house in Bagan Serai for lunch, I enjoyed her mother’s cooking.
“I used to call her when her father (T. Ramasamy) was admitted to hospital due to kidney problems. It’s sad that she had to go through tough times. First her dad passed away two months ago and now her vision is failing.”
Shahidatun, who is three months pregnant, will take a break from athletics this year because she is due to give birth in October.
“I will be back in January next year to try and qualify for my third SEA Games in Hanoi in November, ” said the national No. 1 long jumper, who has a personal best of 6.24m.
“Usually, a woman athlete performs better after giving birth and I believe I will do better next year.
“My aim is to break the national long jump record of 6.29m (set by Noor Amira Mohd Nafiah in the Asian Championships in Wuhan in 2015), ” added Shahidatun, who is married to national boxer Arfiqanie Ahmad Anshori.