Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sprinter Mohd Noor bags only medal in athletics

SPRINTER Mohd Noor Imran Hadi saved Malaysia the blushes on the opening day of the athletics programme by bagging a surprise bronze medal in the men’s 100m race.

It was the nation’s solitary me dal at His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary Stadium in Korat yesterday.

The 22-year-old Games rookie, who was not given much of a chance to get among the medallists in the blue riband event, ran the race of his life to snatch third place with a 10.54 finish in the final.

Indonesian Suryo Agung Wibowo broke the Games record with a time of 10.25 to take gold while favourite Wachara Sondee of Thailand settled for the silver in 10.33.

The previous Games record of 10.26 was set by Thai Reanchai Seeharwong in Brunei in 1999.

It has to be noted that Mohd Noor, who only qualified in sixth position for the final, finished ahead of seasoned hands John Herman Murray of Indonesia (10.58) and Thailand’s Sompote Suwannarangsri (10.60).

“I feel very proud to have won a medal in the men’s 100m in just my first SEA Games,” he said.

“My priority was just to better my personal best of 10.62 and the bronze was a bonus. I aim to return stronger for the next Games and get the gold medal for Malaysia.”

The other Malaysian in the race, Mohd Zabidi Ghazali, finished seventh in 10.65.

Sprints coach Harun Rasheed admitted that there had been a blunder in the registration of the men’s 100m runners. And the Malaysian camp had tried in vain to replace Zabidi with the nation’s top sprinter Mohd Latif Nyat at the team managers’ meeting on Thursday.

“We were all thinking that Mohd Noor Imran and Mohd Latif would run in the 100m. Our chances to win the gold would have been better with Latif around. Zabidi had just prepared for the 4x100m event before coming to Korat,” said Harun.

Team manager S. Anthonysamy confirmed that he failed to get the entries changed.

“When the initial list was submitted, Zabidi was doing well. However, his form dropped in the past few weeks while Latif shone in training. But I was disappointed that the organisers did not allow any nation to change athletes as it has been the norm to do so at managers’ meetings,” he said.

Latif was also denied entry to Monday’s 200m race, in which Malaysia will be represented by S. Narendran and Danial Azuan.

Meanwhile, another Games rookie Siti Fatimah Mohamad finished a creditable fifth in the women’s 100m final in 11.96. Vietnam’s Vu Thi Huong won the event in 11.47.

Despite bagging six gold medals yesterday, Thailand, the perennial favourites in the sprint events, won neither one of the century sprints in front of their home crowd.

Shot putter Adi Alifuddin Husain missed out on a bronze medal by three centimetres. His 15.59m throw was only good enough for fourth spot, with Filipino Eliezer Sunang winning bronze with a 15.62m effort.

Thailand’s Catchawal Polyeng and Sarayudh Pinitjit made it a 1-2 finish with 17.43m and 16.99m marks respectively.

Triple jumper Ahmad Firdaus Salim finished a miserable sixth with a best effort of 15.56m, which was way short of winner Theerayut Pilakong of Thailand’s 16.44m new Games record.

Malaysia can expect a better haul on the second day of the athletics competition today with Ngew Sin Mei (women’s long jump) and the men’s 4x400m quartet the best bets to bring glory.


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