Coach throws Grace off guard – but she’s not complaining

PETALING JAYA: National hammer thrower Grace Wong (pic) was thrown off guard when her coach Gu Yuan told her yesterday morning that she would be going to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham from July 28-Aug 8.

The 22-year-old Sarawakian admitted that the news came as a bit of a shock as to qualify for the Games, she has to record a throw of 64m in recent competitions – a mark she has yet to hit.

Grace, however, was included in the athletics squad for Birmingham thanks to the quota given to each nation in the sport. The national coaching staff also felt the time was right for her to compete on a bigger stage.

“When I got the message from her (Yuan), I was shocked. I thought I wasn’t going because I have not hit the qualification mark. But she said I was picked based on my performances over the years,” said Grace.

Grace is the national record holder for the women’s hammer throw with a mark of 62.48m, which she set at the Malaysian Grand Prix last year.

In this year’s SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, she struck gold but only recorded 57.30m.

Grace said the competition in Birmingham would be challenging but instead of looking at the other competitors, she is only going to focus on herself.

“My aim in Birmingham is to better my personal best. But it would be nice to break the national record again,” she said.

“In training sessions, I’ve recorded distances of 64m. I hope that can be replicated in Birmingham. If I were to compare my national record with the previous Commonwealth Games result, I would be in the top six.

“But things have changed, so we will see what happens on that day. Winning gold in the SEA Games was nice, but I wasn’t happy with the distance.’’

Grace revealed that she only returned to full training last week but feels that coach Gu Yuan knows what’s needed to help her mount a strong challenge in Birmingham.

“The coach has told me to focus on my technique to ensure that I do much better than my mark at the SEA Games.”

The other Malaysian athletes heading for the Commonwealth Games are Nauraj Singh Randhawa (high jump), Andre Anura Anuar (long jump), Mohd Irfan Shamsuddin (discus), Jackie Wong (hammer throw), Russel Alexander Nasir Taib (200m) and Shereen Samson Vallabuoy (400m).

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