PAHANG’S Mohd Zafril Mohd Zuslani has painful memories of his Sukma debut in Sabah two years ago. He suffered an injury on the eve of his departure and had to withdraw from his pet event - the 400m.
Now, he is back and looking very promising to win a gold medal in the event in Negri Sembilan.
Yesterday, the 19-year-old Zafril signalled his comeback by blazing the track to set a personal best time of 48.45 en route to defending his gold medal in the event in the National Junior Athletics Championships at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Just two weeks ago, he was timed at 48.76 when he won a silver medal in the Asean Schools Championships in Jakarta. Prior to that, he had stagnated at 48.96.
The national trainee, who is currently under the charge of K. Jeyabalan, aims to make his biggest breakthrough in Negri.
“I clocked my personal best here today. This will inspire me to give a better performance in Negri Sembilan. I aim to win the gold medal but more importantly, I hope to dip below 48 seconds,” said the determined Zafril.
However, he was keeping his fingers crossed that misfortune would not strike twice.
“I was looking forward to running in my first Sukma two years ago. But I suffered a hamstring injury on the eve of our team’s departure to Kota Kinabalu. It was supposed to be our last training session at home. I was so frustrated,” he said.
“I was looking forward to racing along side Mohd Zaiful Abidin (who currently holds the national junior and national records of 46.41). Zaiful was certainly the favourite then,” he said.
“Zaiful will not be in Negri. I hope to win the 400m gold medal. My main challenger will be Johor’s Mohd Zamri Mat Ali. He is 21 years old and is not competing here in the national junior meet which is for Under-19 athletes.
“Zamri trains with me at the national training centre in Bukit Jalil,” said Zafril, who switched to middle distance three years ago after finding the competition in the sprints was too hot to handle.
Zafril’s gold medal yesterday was the second for Pahang. In the girls’ division, Norrini Abdul Hanifah hurled the javelin to a distance of 38.15m to win the gold medal.
The biggest winners yesterday were Selangor, who pocketed four of the 15 gold medals contested on the second day of the three-day meet.
Three out of the four gold medals for Selangor were won in field events through Lee Hup Wei (boys’ high jump), Abdul Halim Yatim (boys’ hammer) and Noor Akmar Abdul Fatah (girls’ pole vault). Shinar Shazuan won the fourth gold after finishing top in the boys’ 110m hurdles with a time of 15.08.
After two days, Johor are leading the table with a total medal haul of 6-6-2 followed by defending overall champions Kuala Lumpur with a 6-3-0 haul.
Yesterday, Johor bagged three gold medals while KL pocketed two.
Nine more gold medals are up for grabs today.
Results (All finals)
400m: 1. Mohd Zafril Mohd Zuslani (Pah) 48.45, 2. Mohd Azlan Alfi (Joh) 49.89, 3. B. Kokulavanan (Sel) 50.40.
4x100m: 1. Johor 42.52, 2. Terengganu 42.80, 3. Selangor 43.37.
5,000m: 1. A. Vikkaram (Prk) 15:43.96, 2. R. Venugopal (Prk) 17:02.02, 3. Mohd Kamarulizu (Ter) 17:50.71.
Shot putt: 1. Alifuddin Husin (Ter) 14.10m, 2. Mohd Hasrolnizam Yaakob (Sel) 13.99m, 3. Mohd Hafiz Hashim (Pah) 13.88m.
High jump: 1. Lee Hup Wei (Sel) 2.05m, 2. Syed Zamluddin S. Ahmad (Joh) 1.98m, 3. Jared Amadis (Sab) 1.95m.
Hammer: 1. Abdul Halim Yatim (Sel) 44.77m, 2. Mohd Faizul Ahmad (Sel) 39.15m, 3. Yeow Wen Loong (Sel) 38.74m.
400m: 1. Norohida Badawi (Swk) 58.76, 2. Norhazwanie Nor (Ked) 58.92, 3. Nur Azua Mohd (Joh) 1:00.29.
4x100m: 1. Johor 50.62, 2. Kuala Lumpur 51.74, 3. Selangor 52.11.
800m: P. Savitree (Ked) 2.43.44, 2. Chung Mai Fun (Kul) 2:45.66, 3. R. Chandralekha (Sel) 2:57.63.
5,000m: 1. S. Sanggetha (Kul) 19:34.64, 2. N. Shivanaeeth (Nse) 20:55.73, 3. Malliga Perumal (Sel) 21:01.31.
10,000m walk: Foo Chee Yean (Kul) 57:37.83, 2. Ou Sie Fong (Prk) 1:00:44.85, 3. N. Vithiaa (Pen) 1:05:05.06.
Long jump: 1. Siti Zubaiday Adabi (Joh) 5.78m, 2. Liew Hui Fen (Prk) 5.22m, 3. Siew Mei Yen (Nse) 5.14m.
Javelin: 1. Norrini Abdul Hanifah (Pah) 38.15m, 2. Norhidayu Ali (Joh) 36.27m, 3. Nurul Huda Mohd Akhir (Ked) 34.34m.
Pole vault: 1. Noor Akmar Abdul Fatah (Sel) 3.20m, 2. Kathleen Ong (Joh) 3.10m, 3. Alia Syahira (Sel) 2.90m.