PETALING JAYA: Mohamed Shahrulhaizy Abdul Rahman is the first walker to qualify for the Vietnam SEA Games.
The Kuala Lumpur lad clocked 1'33:31 in the men's 20km race in the Selangor Open athletics championships yesterday to beat the qualifying mark of 1'33:46.
The event, which was also the first race on the national walk circuit, was held at Taman Titiwangsa in Kuala Lumpur.
The 23-year-old Shahrulhaizy, representing Telekom, led from the start in a seven-competitor race. He clocked his personal best time to finish ahead of Petaling Jaya Municipal Council's duo of A. Letchumanan and B. Elangovan, who were timed at 2'22:44 and 2'29:34 respectively.
Shahrulhaizy was also the first walker to qualify for the 2001 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games. But he pulled out of the team because he was fed up with the controversy over his selection.
Shahrulhaizy had together with Teoh Boon Lim and B. Thirukumaran beaten the qualifying mark. The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) selected Boon Lim and Shahrulhaizy, who had posted the two fastest times.
But Thirukumaran appealed against the decision, claiming that Shahrulhaizy's time was done on track at the Negri Sembilan Open.
The 20km race in the Games was a road race. And Thirukumaran had beaten Boon Lim and Shahrulhaizy in the Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (MAAU) Open, which was a road race.
Boon Lim went on to win the Games gold medal and Thirukumaran bagged the bronze. Boon Lim has retired from competition while Thirukumaran did take part in the race yesterday.
Shahrulhaizy, who is training under former international V. Subramaniam, said he was happy to have beaten the qualify mark.
“I hope there will be no controversy over the selection this time. I am looking forward to competing in international meets in my preparations for my first SEA Games,” said Shahrulhaizy, who also won the Negri Open last month in 1'35:03.
At the Petaling Jaya Stadium in Kelana Jaya, pole vaulter Roslinda Samsu also qualified for the SEA Games, equalling the 3.80m which won her the silver medal in the 2001 KL Games. Her effort of 3.80m also erased the old meet record of 3.70m set by Jasmaniah Osman last year.
To date eight athletes have qualified for the Vietnam SEA Games. Besides Shahrulhaizy and Roslinda, the others are Loo Kum Zee (high jump), Wong Tee Kue (hammer), Malik Tobias (decathlon), Noraseela Khalid (400m hurdles), Siti Shahida Abdullah (hammer) and Mohd Faiz Mohamed (110m hurdles).
Siti Shahida, who rewrote her own national record in the women's hammer with a distance of 49.79m on Saturday, was named as the best female athlete of the Selangor Open.
Mohd Syahrul Amri, who won the men's long jump event with a jump of 7.56m yesterday, was voted as the best male athlete in the two-day championships.