Athletics: Roslinda clinches Asian crown

PETALING JAYA: Pole vaulter Roslinda Samsu wrapped up victory in the easiest of fashion to deliver the second gold medal for Malaysia in the Asian Track and Field (ATF) Championships in Amman, Jordan on Sunday. 

Roslinda was assured of her place in the history books as the first Malaysian woman to claim gold in a field event at the championships after she cleared her starting height of 4.00m in the second attempt. Her two rivals in the three-athlete competition had failed to clear 3.80m. 

Roslinda Samsu

In the absence of Asian Games gold medallist Gao Shuying, another Chinese pole vaulter Li Ling was seen as the biggest threat to Roslinda's hopes of claiming the gold medal. 

But Li Ling, who boasted of a season's best of 4.30m, failed miserably. She failed in all three attempts at 3.60m and ended up last in the three-woman field. Singapore's Rachel Yang Bing Jie took the silver with a 3.50m effort. 

Roslinda, who holds the national record of 4.40m, went on to clear 4.20m but failed at 4.35m. It was still a noteworthy achievement for the 25-year-old, who has already qualified for the Beijing Olympics next year under Category B after clearing 4.30m to win gold in the Kazakhstan Open in June. 

Her golden effort brought Malaysia their best-ever showing in the ATF since its inception in 1973. 

High jumper Lee Hup Wei claimed gold on Wednesday with a height of 2.24m, which equalled the national record set by Loo Kum Zee. But it fell short of the Olympic qualifying mark of 2.27m. 

Roslinda is the fifth Malaysian to win a gold medal in the ATF history. The other three golds were won in track events – women’s 4x400m in 1981, B. Rajkumar in the men’s 800m in 1985 and Nur Herman Majid in the men’s 110m hurdles in 1991. 

Besides Roslinda, the other Malaysian athletes in action on Sunday were the men's 4x100m team of S. Nanendran, Mohd Zuslaini, Mohd Jamaludin Shahadan and Mohd Zaiful Zainal Abidin. They finished last in the final in 3:15.58, falling short of the SEA Games qualifying mark of 3:10.55. 

The Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (MAAU) vice-president Karim Ibrahim was happy that Roslinda lived up to expectations. 

“We have never won more than one gold in the previous editions of the ATF. Looking at the entries of the women's pole vault, we knew there was a good chance this time,” said Karim from Jordan. 

“Roslinda also did better than her last outing in the ATF. She won the bronze in South Korea with a height of 4.10m.”