KUALA LUMPUR: Sabah's Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian has proven himself as the most successful junior hurdler in the country. Now, the youngster is aiming higher.
He is out to dislodge two more established national athletes SEA Games gold and silver medallist Robani Hassan and Mohd Faiz Mohamed.
Rayzam, who will turn 19 on Jan 11, did his home state proud by winning the silver medal in the boys' 110m hurdles with a personal best of 13.84s in the Asian Junior championships in Macau in July.
His effort was better than the Asian junior record of 14.05 set by Shi Dongpeng of China in Brunei in 2001.
Rayzam also retained the Asean Schools meet in Chiang Mai in August with a time of 14.22. He also clocked 13.92 in the semi-finals of the World Junior championships in Beijing in late August and was ranked 11th in the meet.
Rayzam, the National Sports School Council (MSSM) and Sukma (Malaysia Games) gold medallist, is currently the third ranked national hurdler after Robani and Faiz.
And his plan to make his way up in the rankings.
My target next year is to challenge Robani and Faiz and win a place in the SEA Games in Thailand. Although they are more experienced athletes then me, I will definitely try my best to do better than them to book a berth.
The SEA Games qualification mark is 14.16, the time clocked by Mohd Faiz, the silver medallist at the last Games in 2005. Robani then won the gold on 14.08.
Rayzam, who is training full-time under coach Raymei A. Bakar in Keningau, added that he would not leave any stone unturned in his efforts to achieve his target.
I will be competing in as many meets as possible and I am confident that I will be able to surpass the qualifying mark by September,'' said Rayzam.
Among the meets he will compete in next year are the Philippines Open in April, Arafura Games in Darwin in May, Sabah Games in June and the Malaysian Open in September.
Rayzam added that although he has done well in athletics, his academic achievements have not been anything to shout about.
I did badly in my SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) last year and re-sat the exams last month. If I get good results in SPM, I will definitely be driven to do much better in athletics,'' said Rayzam.