FIRST there were mum and dad. Now, here comes the daughter.
Following in the footsteps of her parents, especially her mother, feels amazing for national 400m queen Shereen Samson Vallabouy.
The 24-year-old broke a 17-year duck in track and field at the Asian Games when she won the bronze medal at the Hangzhou Olympics Stadium yesterday.
It was all the more laudable as it was against some mighty opponents.
Shereen finished with a time of 52.58s but Bahrain’s Mujidat Adekonya was imperious throughout as she took gold with a time of 50.66s. Her compatriot Salwa Eid Naser was close behind on 50.92s.
The last woman athlete to win a medal in athletics was Noraseela Mohd Khalid, who won the 400m hurdles bronze in Doha 2006.
Shereen also emulated her mother Josephine Mary, who won the 800m bronze medal in the Seoul 1986. Josephine also took bronze in the 1990 Beijing Games in the 4x400m relay with Rabia Abdul Salam, Sajaratuldur Hamzah and G. Shanti.
Asked what her parents, including her dad former national athlete Samson Vallabouy, had said, she said they had just told her to give her best. Now, with six weeks of off-season, she cannot wait to head back to her family’s residence in Ipoh.
“I am looking forward to meeting everyone back home in Ipoh,” said Shereen.
“It feels amazing to come to this stage and earn a podium after all the hard work. My mother and father were national athletes. It’s such an amazing feeling to follow in their footsteps and make them proud.
“What does this bronze mean to me? It means a lot. All the hard work this year had its ups and downs. It feels amazing, feels like my work paid off.”
Shereen said it was tough to chase the Bahrainis so she had focused on finishing third.
“Everyone in the field was strong. I focused on my lane and how I was going to run my race.
“I think I had a great start and pushed off really well. Just being able to maintain the back stretch was good. The girls are really strong but I could use them as pacemakers.”
After the off-season break, it will be back to hard work as Shereen prepares for the Olympics, targeting to break her personal best of 51.80s.
But first, there will be the 4x100m relay on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, hammer thrower Jackie Wong Siew Cheer did not have the best of outings in the final. He finished 11th with a throw of 62.79m.
China’s Wang Qi took the gold with a throw of 72.97m, while Qatar’s Ashraf Elseify and Uzbekistan’s Sukhrob Khodjaev took silver and bronze with a distance of 72.42m and 70.79m respectively.