Hus­niah boosts Sea Games hopes

New Straits Times - - Sport - Devin­der Singh

sprinter Zai­datul Hus­niah Zulk­i­fli posted the fastest time ever run by a Malaysian woman in the 100m in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day to mark her­self as one to watch at the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games in Au­gust.

Although her time of 11.36 sec­onds can­not be recog­nised as a na­tional record due to a tail­wind of 2.5 me­tres per sec­ond, Hus­niah set up the tan­ta­lis­ing pos­si­bil­ity of a men’s and women’s 100m golden double at the Sea Games.

Her time was faster than G. Shanti’s na­tional record of 11.50 sec­onds, which has stood since 1993, and comes just eight months af­ter Khairul Hafiz Jan­tan erased Wat­son Nyam­bek's men's 100m record.

Hus­niah's ef­fort was a marked im­prove­ment on her pre­vi­ous best of 11.62s set at the 2014 Asean Uni­ver­sity Games, mak­ing her a medal prospect at the Sea Games.

Na­tional chief coach Zainal Abas agreed that Hus­niah, 23, could end Malaysia’s gold medal drought in the Sea Games women’s sprints since Shanti’s 100m200m double vic­tory in 1997.

“Based on this tim­ing, which still needs to be ver­i­fied as to the wind read­ing, it would make Hus­niah a lead­ing con­tender at the Sea Games,” Zainal told Time­s­port yes­ter­day be­fore the wind mea­sure­ment was an­nounced.

“It is by far the best tim­ing by a Malaysian in women’s sprint­ing and Hus­niah was al­ready in the top three in South­east Asia last year.”

With Khairul also one of the favourites in the men’s sprints, Malaysia could see a long drought in both the men’s and women’s sprints come to an end in Au­gust.

No Malaysian has even mounted the podium in the women’s 100m since Shanti’s 1997 vic­tory while Nazmizan Muham­mad was the last Malaysian win­ner of the men’s 100m and 200m in 2003.

Only once — in 1967 — have Malaysians won both the men’s and women’s 100m at the same edi­tion when Tan Sri Dr M. Je­gath­e­san and Ch­eryl Do­ral were suc­cess­ful.

Hus­niah be­came the sec­ond Malaysian record breaker on suc­ces­sive week­ends af­ter Tan Huong Leong set a new na­tional mark in the marathon in Tokyo last Sun­day.

The Pe­nang-born sprinter, who also holds the na­tional in­door 60m record, fin­ished sec­ond in the race with team­mates S. Ko­ma­lam Shally and Siti Fa­tima Mo­hamad com­ing in third and fourth re­spec­tively.

Hus­niah also ran at the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics on a wild­card en­try and is cur­rently on a two-month train­ing and com­pe­ti­tion stint in South Africa along with 10 other na­tional ath­letes in preparation for the Sea Games.

Zai­datul Hus­niah Zulk­i­fli clocked 11.36s in South Africa yes­ter­day.

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