Zaidatul out to end sprints drought
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