LEIPZIG-BASED FEMALE 400M HURDLER IS MALAYSIA’S BEST CWG MEDAL HOPE. . .
RUN-UP TO THE XVIII COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Malaysians face uphill task
A REALITY check has doused the country with a cold drenching of realisation that there is not much to get excited about where athle- tics – the blue riband event of any major sports festival – is concerned in the upcoming Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
Amidst some of the greatest performers in Malaysian athletics history, the nation’s two medallists in the Games remain a footballer- turned-race walker and a China-born race walker.
Penangite G. Saravanan snatched victory in the men’s 50km walk at Titiwangsa Lake almost eight years ago, the gold going down into the history books as Malaysia’s first ever athletics medal in the Games.
In Manchester four years ago, Yuan Yufang atoned for her 1998 disqualification by bagging a bronze after a walk around the scenic Salford Quays, not far from where Alex Ferguson gave David Beckham the hair dryer treatment at Old Trafford.
Six athletes will be on duty Down Under.
In race walker Sharrulhaizy Abdul Rahman, high jumper Ahmad Najwan Aqra Hassaim, hurdlers Mohd Robani Hassan, Noraseela Mohd Khalid and Moh Siew Wei as well as pole vaulter Roslinda Samsu, lie the nation’s hope of competing on the world stage.
The Commonwealth, admittedly, remains too competitive for Malaysians.
Prior to Saravanan’s unexpected victory and Yufang’s walk in the park, the likes of M. Jegathe- san, Rahim Ahmad, Ga- buh Pigging, M. Rajamani and Nashatar Singh had missed out on the medals.
The standard of track athletes coming to the Games means spectators can expect to see some of the biggest names in the sport hunting for glory and medals, including world-record holders and Olympic medallists.
Realistically, Malaysia’s best hope lies on Noraseela’s slender shoulders. The Leipzig-based hurdler is ranked among the top eight hurdlers from the Commonwealth countries in the women’s 400m hurdles.