High jumpers fail to retain proud record as they finish out of the medals

MALAYSIA's proud 28-year record of winning the men's high jump gold medal in consecutive SEA Games since 1977 came to an end at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila yesterday. 

Lee Hup Wei and Ahmad Najwan Aqra failed to live up to expectations and finished out of the medals. 

The two youngsters were expected to step in to rule after the retirement of five-time SEA Games champion Loo Kum Zee. 

The 18-year-old Bukit Jalil Sports School student Hup Wei has a personal best of 2.20m while the 20-year-old Najwan, the silver medallist at the last Games in Vietnam, boasts of a 2.14m mark. 

But they were a major letdown yesterday, needing three attempts to clear 2.11m and then crashed out of the competition, failing at the next height of 2.14m. 

The event was won by Vietnam's Nguyen Duy Bang, the only one among the five jumpers still standing after clearing 2.14m. 

FRUSTRATED: Malaysian high jumpers Ahmad Najwan Aqra (right) and Lee Hup Wei sit dejectedly onthe bench after failing to win any medal in Manila yesterday.

Because of the Malaysians' failure to clear the 2.11m mark easily, the silver and bronze medals were handed to Vietnam's Nguyen Thanh Phong and Thailand's Chockchai Jirasukrujee respectively on countback. 

Malaysia also failed to defend the blue riband men's 100m gold medal with Mohd Faizal Maslim finishing last in the race. He clocked the same time as he did in the semi-final on Sunday, a 10.88. 

“I could not recover from my high fever in time and I am sorry that I could not produce a better performance to challenge for a medal,” said Faizal. 

“It is unfortunate that I was stricken with high fever on the eve of my event.” 

Thailand regained the 100m gold lost to Malaysian Nazmizan Mohammad in 2003 with Wachara Sondee cruising home in 10.47. 

His compatriot, Sompote Suwannarangsri, finished second in 10.52 and Indonesian Suryo Agung Wibowo was third in 10.54. 

Vietnam continued their domination of the women's 100m dash with Vu Thi Huong winning the race in 11.49 ahead of Thailand’s Nongnuch Sanrat (11.63) 

At the halfway mark of the athletics competition, the Malaysian team have raked in half of their six-gold target. 

Yuan Yufang will be relied upon to deliver Malaysia's fourth gold medal this morning in the 20km walk at the Macapagal Boulevard. 

Ngew Sin Mei, who broke the women's long jump national record on Sunday, can also be expected to challenge for the gold in the triple jump. 

On the track, 400m runner Mohd Zafril Zuslaini is Malaysia's best bet for a gold medal. 

The athletics programme ends tomorrow. 

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