First to English classes, then to Auburn and hopefully new 400m mark


Chengdu high: Umar Osman set the 400m record of 46.09 at the World University Games in August.

PETALING JAYA: Quarter-miler Umar Osman is not just putting in the hours on the track, he is also poring over notes on English.

The 20-year-old national 400m record holder is preparing for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and he needs to ace it if he wants to pursue his training and tertiary education in the United States.

The Cambodia SEA Games gold medallist, who has received offers from Auburn University in Alabama and also from Houston and Ohio, said he has to brush up on his English before taking the test.

“I am doing lots of practice exams now before taking the IELTS. I am being helped by a liaison officer from the Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF) in fulfilling this task,” he said.

“I am doing this practice because I want to feel confident. A deadline has not been set yet to complete the test but yes, work is ongoing to ensure I ace it.”

Umar, who holds the national men’s 400m record of 46.09s set at the World University Games (WUG) in Chengdu in August, has been offered a partial scholarship but the MAF and NSC have been working tirelessly to top up the funding to allow the Johor-born runner to be based in the United States.

MAF said that it will cost from US$46,000 (RM220,000) to US$52,000 (RM249,000) annually depending on the programme Umar enrols, if he goes to Auburn.

Umar is currently on off-season but that does not mean he is not putting in any work during that period.

He said MAF technical director Robert Ballard and his coach Simon Lau have been helping him by giving specific programmes, with the aim of hitting sub-46s next year.

“I’m training on my own, making sure I remain active. Coach Simon and Robert have been helping me a lot this off-season and I am sure they would have plans for next year.

“No tournaments have been confirmed yet for 2024, but I cannot wait to get back on the track again and go for another national record.”

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