PETALING JAYA: Yap Qi Yi is just 17 but is already making waves in the duathlon scene.
The youngster was truly in his element at the National Championship as he did not only win the men’s title but was also the only athlete to break the one-hour mark in the competition at Bandar Sri Sendayan, Seremban on Sunday.
He even upstaged Malaysia’s 2019 Philippines SEA Games athlete Lee Wen Jun, who finished second.
Qi Yi completed the 7.5km run and 20km cycling course in an impressive 59 minutes and 39 seconds.
The 25-year-old Wen Jun crossed the finish line in 1’00:14, followed closely by Amri Ikhsaan Yazdani in third with a time of 1’00:42.
It was Qi Yi’s first national championships and he even completed it with a slight injury.
“I’m thrilled to have secured my maiden national title. The win was even more special because I successfully battled through a right leg cramp during the final 2.5km run,” said Qi Yi, who finished fourth in the National Triathlon championship in Desaru, Johor, in July.
“The cramp occurred after I pushed myself too hard during the bike race due to numerous attacks from my fellow competitors. I tried to keep up.
“Running with cramps, I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. However, heading into the final routine in second place, I decided to persevere.
“I took it easy at the start, and as my condition improved, I gradually increased my pace and overtook my opponents, maintaining it until the finish line.
“This win is a morale booster for me. I eagerly anticipate evolving into one of the top national triathletes and aspire to be selected for the 2025 SEA Games in Thailand.”
In the absence of the national No. 1, Isaac Tan, due to fever, Wen Jun was initially considered the clear favourite for the race.
However, Wen Jun was content with how the day unfolded for him.
“Considering the limited training hours, I’m quite satisfied with this runner-up result. In fact, it’s unexpected because the competition was exceptionally strong,” said Wen Jun.
As for the women’s title, national athlete Ng Wen May took the trophy with a time of 1’12:40, three minutes faster than the second-placed Ng Qiao Yi, who completed the course in 1’15:42.
Wen May, a second-year medical student, was thrilled to make a triumphant return to the competition after a brief hiatus to focus on her studies.
“I haven’t been training much since the Cambodia SEA Games, as my priority was catching up with my studies,” said Wen May.
“So, winning the national title under these circumstances was never easy.
“Timing-wise, I’m satisfied, but in terms of performance, I think I could have done better in my final 2.5km run.”