MAF not satisfied with athletics squad's failure to meet target
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - The Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) is not satisfied following the performance of the national athletics camp which failed to meet the target of 10 gold medals set for the 2023 Sea Games.
Its president, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the hope of bringing home 10 gold was based on the current performance of national athletes before they came to battle in Cambodia.
Despite the disappointing performance of the country's athletics, Shahidan remains grateful that MAF's move to risk a number of new faces was right as they managed to bring home a bronze medal in waima.
"If we didn’t get a bronze, then it is not totally unexpected, but getting a medal proves that the first-time exposure at the Sea Games for young athletes is successful," he said.
Apart from five golds, the athletics competition which came to a close yesterday saw Malaysia take three silver and 12 bronze.
The achievement of bringing home five gold by the athletics squad equalled the record at the 2021 Sea Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
In Cambodia, three national athletes, Grace Wong (women's hammer), Muhammad Irfan Shamsuddin (men's discus throw) and Andre Anura Anuar (men's triple jump) showed excellent performance by defending their respective gold medals.
The focus however was more on the national women's 400m champion, Shereen Samson Vallabouy who lived up to expectations by clinching the gold while 20-year-old male runner, Umar Osman turned out to be a surprise bagging the gold in his first appearance at the biennial sports event.
In fact, the young man from Kluang, Johor recorded 46.34 seconds (s) in the competition held at the Morodok Techo National Stadium, which was enough for him to break the men’s 400m national record of 46.61s set almost 22 years ago by Mohd Zaiful Zainal Abidin, in the Junior Asian Athletics Championships in Brunei in July 2001.
Umar's success saw him end a 14-year gold drought which was last won by Zafril Zuslaini in the 2009 edition in Vientiane, Laos.
Shereen, on the other hand, puts Malaysia in the top position of the women's 400m podium at the SEA Games after N. Manimagalay last won it in the 1999 edition in Brunei.
Not only that, the men's quartet managed to end a 10-year drought by garnering the bronze yesterday.
The quartet of Umar, Abdul Wafiy Roslan, Muhammad Firdaus Mohamad Zemi and S. Tarshan recorded a time of three minutes and 08.82 seconds (s) to clinch the bronze, thus equaling the achievement of Malaysia who last won a medal in the event in the 2013 edition in Myanmar. - BERNAMA