Zai­datul out to end sprints drought

New Straits Times - - Sport -

IT has been 20 years since a Malaysian last stood on the podium of a women’s sprint event at the Sea Games but in Zai­datul Hus­niah Zulk­i­fli, the coun­try has a run­ner about to bring that drought to an end.

G. Shanti’s 100m and 200m dou­ble vic­tory in 1997 is the last time a Malaysian won a medal in ei­ther event.

But sprinter Hus­niah, who will run in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m when the ath­let­ics com­pe­ti­tion be­gins on Aug 22 at the Na­tional Sta­dium in Kuala Lumpur, fanned ex­pec­ta­tions of Sea Games glory fol­low­ing an im­pres­sive stint in South Africa ear­lier this year.

The Pe­nang-born run­ner clocked a wind-as­sisted 11.36s in the 100m be­fore seem­ingly wip­ing away Shanti’s na­tional record of 11.50 set in 1993 with a time of 11.45 in Bloem­fontein.

The lat­ter run, how­ever, could not be recog­nised as a record for tech­ni­cal rea­sons though it has hardly damp­ened Hus­niah’s spirit.

“I know that ev­ery­body will be watch­ing the sprints, es­pe­cially the 100m, but I don’t want to put too high ex­pec­ta­tions on my­self,” said 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympian Hus­niah in an in­ter­view ar­ranged by her spon­sor Un­der Ar­mour.

“I don’t want to be stressed out. It’s bet­ter not to think too much about it, be­cause then it af­fects my train­ing and I won’t sleep well at night. Bet­ter to fo­cus on train­ing.”

Of­fi­cially, Hus­niah’s best time in the 100m and 200m this year is 11.62s and 23.80s to rank sec­ond and fifth re­spec­tively in South­east Asia.

Viet­nam’s Le Tu Chinh holds the best time in the re­gion of 11.47s and 23.50s in the 100m and 200m re­spec­tively.

Hus­niah be­lieves she prob­a­bly has to run a per­sonal best in or­der to place among the medal­lists.

“I’m try­ing to im­prove on my tech­nique, speed and con­di­tion­ing, be­fore the Sea Games,” said Hus­niah, who turns 24 on Aug 20. “I will have to man­age run­ning in three events but I’ve faced a sched­ule like this be­fore.

“It’s a chal­lenge for me but I’m fo­cused on all three events. I don’t have a spe­cific tim­ing tar­get but as long as I train hard then the per­for­mances will ma­te­ri­alise. Devin­der SIngh

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