Sean Yee fly­ing but not high enough

New Straits Times - - Sport -

HIGH jumper Yap Sean Yee ex­tended her own na­tional record yes­ter­day to sig­nify a re­vival of the for­tunes of Malaysia’s women track and field ath­letes.

Fol­low­ing the record-breaking feat of sprinter Zai­datul Hus­niah Zulk­i­fli, Sean Yee im­proved her own mark of 1.79 me­tres with a 1.81m ef­fort at the FTKLAA Throws, Jumps and Un­der Dis­tance Cham­pi­onships at the Se­ti­awangsa Na­tional Sports Com­plex in Wangsa Maju.

With the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games only five months away, Malaysian athletics looks in­creas­ingly likely to im­prove on the all-time low of three gold medals in Sin­ga­pore two years ago.

Key to achiev­ing the tar­get this time is the per­for­mance of the women’s ath­letes. But Sean Yee, 22, will need to im­prove on her per­sonal best by at least four more cen­time­tres to be in po­si­tion to chal­lenge for gold at the Sea Games in Au­gust.

“It is the first time a Malaysian woman high jumper has gone over 1.80 me­tres but we still need to see how Sean Yee car­ries on from here,” said na­tional chief coach Zainal Abas.

“It’s too early to say that she can win a gold medal at the Sea Games be­cause the win­ning mark at the last Games was 1.85m.

“If she can per­form reg­u­larly above 1.80m then she might be in line for a medal. But gold de­pends on how she gets on.”

Sean Yee’s lat­est ef­fort matched the bronze medal-win­ning mark of Sin­ga­pore’s Michelle Sng in 2015, when Sean Yee fin­ished sixth.

Malaysia last won gold medals in women’s athletics at the Sea Games in 2011 through hur­dler No­raseela Khalid, pole vaulter Roslinda Samsu and ham­mer thrower Tan Song Hwa —all now re­tired.

A medal drought in women’s high jump ex­tends even longer to No­raishah Is­mail’s bronze in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur while Gla­dys Chai was the last Malaysian win­ner of the event in 1979.

Now training un­der Alex Gas­paryan, Sean Yee could be sent to the Philip­pines Open later this month to con­tinue her prepa­ra­tion.

Meanwhile, 2011 Sea Games gold medal­list Lo Choon Sieng fin­ished sev­enth in the Asian 20km Race Walk­ing Cham­pi­onships in Nomi City, Ja­pan yes­ter­day.

Mak­ing a comeback to the sport after his fail­ure to de­fend his gold medal in 2013 saw him drop off the radar, 32-year-old Choon Sieng clocked one hour, 27 min­utes and 52 sec­onds, only 16 sec­onds off his per­sonal best set in the same race in 2010.

Team­mate Khairil Harith Harun, bronze medal­list at the 2015 Sea Games, came in ninth in the open cat­e­gory in 1:30:47s, more than a minute off his per­sonal best of 1:29:38. Devinder Singh

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