Sean Yee flying but not high enough
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