Coach won’t push her too hard too fast de­spite sprinter bag­ging 100m na­tional record

New Straits Times - - Sport - DEVIN­DER SINGH devin­

ZAI­DATUL Hus­niah Zulk­i­fli must surely now be in­cluded in the con­ver­sa­tion when dis­cussing po­ten­tial gold medal win­ners at the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games in Au­gust.

The 23-year-old sprinter fi­nally erased G. Shanti’s 100m na­tional record of 11.50 sec­onds which has stood since 1993 with a time of 11.45 in an Ath­let­ics South Africa Su­per Se­ries meet in Bloem­fontein on Wed­nes­day.

The per­for­mance echoed her wind-as­sisted run of 11.36s on Satur­day which de­nied Hus­niah a place in the record books only be­cause of a strong tail­wind.

On this oc­ca­sion, how­ever, ev­ery­thing fell in place for Hus­niah, in­clud­ing the weather, as the 2016 Rio Olympian be­came the fastest Malaysian woman in the 100m.

While happy with her per­for­mance, Hus­niah’s coach M. Bala­mu­ru­gan does not be­lieve his charge has reached her peak yet though he wants Hus­niah to progress at her own pace.

“I’m happy she was able to main­tain her per­for­mance in these two races,” said Bala­mu­ru­gan when reached in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day. “She did very well in the first race (on Satur­day) but un­for­tu­nately for her, the wind was too strong. Yes­ter­day she did bet­ter.

“I be­lieve she is ca­pa­ble of go­ing un­der 11.40s but I don’t want to put too much pres­sure on her. It’s too early for her to peak be­cause the main tar­get is the Sea Games.

“I just want her to main­tain her per­for­mance as she still has four more races to go in South Africa un­til the mid­dle of April.”

Hus­niah, 23, whose per­sonal best prior to go­ing to South Africa for a two-month train­ing and com­pe­ti­tion stint was 11.62s, has now put her­self in the run­ning for a medal in the sprint events at the Sea Games.

Her new na­tional record would have been good enough to win gold at six of the last seven Sea Games 100m fi­nals.

As no Malaysian has even stood on the 100m podium since G. Shanti’s 100m and 200m golden dou­ble in 1997, Hus­niah’s ex­ploits come as a breath of fresh air in the sprints.

Her achieve­ment fol­lows that of Khairul Hafiz Jan­tan’s na­tional record of 10.18 sec­onds in the men’s 100m, which Azam Masri came close to equalling on Wed­nes­day, when he timed 10.22 in the B fi­nal.

Rio Olympic 400m gold medal­list and world record holder Wayde van Niekirk ran in the 100m A fi­nal and fin­ished sec­ond in 10.10.

That per­for­mance made Azam, who usu­ally runs the 400m, the sec­ond fastest Malaysian in the men’s 100m and only fell 0.10 short of qual­i­fy­ing for the World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don.

Pe­nang-born Hus­niah was only de­nied vic­tory in the 100m A fi­nal by the nar­row­est of mar­gins with South African Tamzin Thomas win­ning the race, run in a slight tail­wind of 0.4 me­tres per sec­ond, in 11.44s.

Team­mate S. Ko­ma­lam Shally was fourth in a per­sonal best of 11.72s while Siti Fa­tima Mo­hamad won the B 100m fi­nal in 11.70s, also a per­sonal best.

Shereen Samson Val­labouy, who rarely runs the 100m and was 400m bronze medal­list at the 2015 Sea Games, timed 11.90s.

In other events, the quar­tet of Nu­rul Faizah Asma Ma­zlan, Siti Fa­tima, Ko­ma­lam and Hus­niah fin­ished sec­ond in the women’s 4x100m in 45.71s, with South Africa claim­ing the win in 45.16.

The Malaysian men’s 4x100m quar­tet of Jonathan Nyepa, Badrul Hisyam Manap, Haiqal Hanafi and Khairul clocked 40.38s to also end up be­hind the hosts (39.03).

Zai­datul Hus­niah Zulk­i­fli

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