KUALA LUMPUR: Three events. Three personal bests.
That’s quite an achievement by skater Mohamad Ariff Rasydan in the recently-concluded ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The Form Five student of SMK Bandar Tun Hussein Onn 2 in Cheras clocked 46.809 in the 500m, 1:39.692 in the 1,000m and 2:37.485 in the 1,500m.
And his efforts have seen him qualify on merit for the ISU World Cup in Dordrecht, Holland, from Feb 12-14.
The 16-year-old Ariff, who was competing in the Under-19 event for the third time in Sofia, was thrilled to bits.
“I’m happy to have improved on my personal best in all three events ... and qualify for my second World Cup in Holland. It’s a dream come true for me,” said Ariff, who took up skating nine years ago.
This is the first time that he has made the second round in the World Juniors, having exited in the opening rounds of the meets in Turkey (2014) and Tokyo (2015).
Ariff, who made his World Cup in Seoul, South Korea, last year, admitted that the competition in the World Cup in Holland would be tough as “I’ll be competing against Olympic and world champions”.
“But I’m not too concerned as I’m going to Holland to improve on my personal best in all three events,” said the world No. 790.
“My team-mate Davin (Wong) qualified for the World Cup in Seoul after clocking 46.30 in the 500m event last year ... I’ll need to clock a better time than that to win a spot for the World Championships in Seoul in March.
“I hope to dip below 45 seconds in Holland.”
Davin and Ashley Chin also featured in the World Juniors in Sofia and both also reached the second round heats in all three events.
Team manager Billy Johan described skating in Sofia as “challenging” for the national skaters due to chilly conditions with temperatures of -22ºC.
“But the skaters managed to stamp their mark, especially Ariff.
“We would like to thank South Korean coach Hong Jin-seok for flying to Sofia to give our skaters useful tips and motivation.
“We are the only nation from South-East Asia to have qualified on merit for World Juniors in Sofia,” said Billy.