PETALING JAYA: One would have expected hammer thrower Grace Wong to get off to a slow start at the Malaysian Athletics Grand Prix – after all, she has not competed in any tournament for more than a year.
But instead, the 21-year-old turned on the power to rewrite a new national record by hurling the hammer to a distance of 62.48m en route to winning the gold at the National Sports Council training track in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
The Sarawakian had set the old mark of 60.99m at the South Korean Open in 2019.
With her effort yesterday, Grace has also booked a ticket for the Hanoi SEA Games.
She has bettered the silver-medal qualifying mark of 55.82m, which she had set at the last Games in the Philippines in 2019.
Despite the season being disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sarawakian said she was confident of a good show in the GP, which is an Olympics qualifying tournament.
“I could not have asked for a better start as this was my first meet after more than a year, ” said Grace, who trains under coach Gu Yuan of China.
“I did not stop training during the movement control order, in fact, the sessions were quite intense, and it was reflected in my result today. My last tournament was the SEA Games in Manila (2019), but I didn’t feel rusty at all. “It was hot and humid, but I did not let it affect my form as I threw as far as I could.
“I managed a distance of 60.19m in my first attempt and I knew that I could break the record as I had thrown more than 62m in training. I want to thank my coach Gu Yuan, who has pushed me very hard in training since July last year.
“I’m happy with my efforts as I’ve also qualified for the Hanoi SEA Games. But what is really motivating is that I managed to surpass the SEA Games gold medal mark of 55.99m set by Thailand’s Mingkamon Koomphon in 2019, ” added a delighted Grace.
Meanwhile, teenager Mohd Arsyad Mohd Saat from Johor upstaged national sprinter Jonathan Nyepa to win the men’s 100m final by clocking a personal best of 10.64.
Jonathan, who finished fourth in the final of the 2019 SEA Games, clocked a poor time of 10.70, while youngster Mohd Azeem Mohd Fahmi of Perak bagged a bronze in 10.85.
The 19-year-old Arsyad was elated but said that he was still a work in progress.
“I’m happy to beat my previous personal best of 10.70 but I can do better with my starting from the block. I need to work on this area as my target this year is to qualify for the SEA Games, ” said Arsyad, who needs to clock 10.42 to make the cut.
“My coach (Mohd Poad Mohd Kassim) told me that only hard work can lead me to success. And he told me to reduce my time spent on playing video games, ” joked Arsyad.
MEN100m: 1. Mohd Arsyad Mohd Saat (Joh) 10.64,2. Jonathan Nyepa (Swk) 10.70,3. Mohd Azeem Mohd Fahmi (Prk) 10.85.
800m: 1. Wan Mohd Fazri Wan Zahari (Kel) 1:55.82,2. Avinasher Austin (Sel) 1:56.44,3. Anas Ariffin (Kel) 1:57.03.
Hammer: 1. Jackie Wong Siew Cheer (Swk) 66.47m, 2. Sadat Marzuqi Ajisan (Nse) 59.94m, 3. Farm Loong Deng (Joh) 19.53m.
High jump: 1. Mohd Eizlan Dahalan (Sab) 2.05m (won on countback), 2. Lee Hup Wei (Sel) 2.05m, 3. Norshafiee Mohd Shah (Joh) 1.96m.
Long jump: 1. Abdul Latif Romly (Per) 7.40m, 2. Luqman Hakim Ramlan (KL) 7.32m, 3. Zulkifle Abdullah (Per) 6.63m.
Pole vault: 1. Iskandar Alwi (Joh) 4.85m, 2. Mohd Naufal Sharul Afzam (Joh) 4.45m, 3. Aiman Suffian Bahrizal (Joh) 3.55m.
WOMEN100m: 1. Azreen Nabila Alias (Ter) 12.00,2. S. Komalam Shally (Prk) 12.01,3. Siti Fatimah Mohamad (Joh) 12.12.
800m: 1. Savinder Kaur (Sel) 2:14.23,2. J. Padhmaloshini (Joh) 2:25.73,3. V. Shankari (Sel) 2:51.22.
Hammer: 1. Grace Wong Xiu Mei (Swk) 62.48m (nat. rec), 2. Nurul Hidayah Lukman (Sel) 49.98m, 3. Eng May Xin Winnie (KL) 17.95m.
Triple jump: 1. R. Kirthana (Prk) 13.21m (meet record), 2. Nurul Ashikin Abbas (Prk) 13.00m, 3. Nur Fatin Najiha Mohd Aziz (Joh) 11.55m.