Friday, August 17, 2007

Athletics: Last chance for Korat hopefuls

From Left: Sprinter Nazmizam Muhammad, Hurdler Shahadan Jamaluddin and Long jumper Shahrul Amri.
From Left: Sprinter Nazmizam Muhammad, Hurdler Shahadan Jamaluddin and Long jumper Shahrul Amri.

THE battle for places in the athletics Sea Games squad is heating up as only three weeks remain for the athletes to confirm their spots for Korat, Thailand.

So far, only 11 athletes and the men’s 4x100m quartet have qualified on merit, leaving the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Association far short of its ambitious goal of having a Malaysian competing in all 45 events to be contested in Korat.

With no more competitions this month, the MAAU Closed championships on Sept 4-8 in Kangar will be the last chance for the national athletes to make the cut.

Athletes who have shown potential or are just running into form but fail to better the second placing mark in the 2005 Manila Sea Games, will be nominated by MAAU for the Olympic Council of Malaysia’s approval under Category B.

Some established names have yet to perform to expectations in several meets this year and are in serious danger of missing out.
Sprinter Nazmizan Muhammad, the 2003 Hanoi Sea Games gold medallist in the 100m and 200m, Manila 400m hurdles winner Shahadan Jamaludin and Hanoi long jump gold medallist Mohd Shahrul Amri Mohd Suhaimi have yet to impress this year.

The men’s long jump has witnessed keen competition resulting in Shahrul Amri, who is struggling to reach 7.40m, being displaced by Josbert Tinus as the country’s No 1 in the event.

Josbert, a late bloomer at 27, posted a personal best of 7.66m at the Perak Open in Ipoh on Aug 3, just three centimetres short of the qualifying mark, while Jen Chan Guo, the Southeast Asian Junior long jump champion, is also pushing for a berth.

"I hope to be selected for the Sea Games as it would be the first time I will be representing the country. At 27, I won’t have many more opportunities, and this could be my one and only shot at glory," said Sabah-born Josbert, who is with the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Josbert was overlooked for the Asian Track and Field Championships in Amman, Jordan last month as the MAAU opted to go with Shahrul Amri, who only managed 7.25m to finish 13th.

"I’m raring to go as I think I can easily do 7.80m if pushed hard. My main rivals would be Shahrul Amri and Joebert Delicano of the Philippines, who did 7.68m in Amman," said Josbert, who has yet to be beaten by a fellow Malaysian this year.

Chan Guo, who has a personal best of 7.26m which he managed at the Federal Territory Games in May, could deny Shahrul Amri a place if he continues to show improvement.

Only ATF gold medallists Roslinda Samsu and Lee Hup Wei, walkers Loh Choon Seang, B. Thirukumaran and Yuan Yufang, hurdlers Robani Hassan, Noraseela Mohd Khalid and Moh Siew Wei, 1,500m runner M. Vadivellan, hammer thrower Siti Shahidah Abdullah and long jumper Ngiew Sin Mei have earned places in the team.

New Straits Times

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