KUALA LUMPUR: Walker Yuan Yufang is making a comeback and hopes to feature in the Indonesia SEA Games in November.
The China-born athlete has dominated the 20km walk in the biennial Games since 1999 in Brunei.
But Yufang skipped the Laos Games two years ago because she was expecting her second child.
The Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (MAAU) deputy president Karim Ibrahim said that they are happy with the return of Yufang.
“She is one of the best women walker in the South East Asia region as she has won gold medals in the five previous SEA Games.
“Although she is 35 years old, I am confident that she will be able to win the gold again in Indonesia,” said Karim.
Yufang made her debut in the 1997 Jakarta SEA Games and she bagged three silver medals in the 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m track events.
Two years later, she switched to the 20km walk event, winning the gold medal at the Brunei Games.
She has since dominated the walk event in the Games, winning gold in KL 2001, Vietnam 2003, Manila 2005 and Korat 2007.
In 2001, Yufang gave birth to a baby boy and recovered in time to qualify and win a gold in the 2001 KL Games.
Yufang has also won bronze in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.
Karim added that Yufang has also agreed to train in Ranau, Sabah in preparation for the SEA Games.
“We are happy with her attitude towards training in Ranau and believe she will be able to beat the qualifying mark of the last SEA Games in Laos,” said Karim.
Yufang, who holds the national record of 1’32.25, should have no problem surpassing the silver medal winning mark of 1’45.23.
Karim said that another good news is that the women’s 3,000m steeplechase would be held for the first time in the SEA Games and Malaysia have a chance of winning the gold through Melinder Kaur.
“Based on the national record of 10:55.31, which she did in the Sukma (Malaysia Games) in Malacca last year, she is expected to deliver the gold,” said Karim. In the Laos Games, the target was to win eight golds but Malaysian athletes return with a haul of 6-6-4.