Get basics right for athletics meets

Rayzamshah Wan Sofian
  • It was supposed to be a perfect avenue for national hurdler Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian to gauge his performance ahead of the year-end Manila SEA Games.

However, a technical boo-boo at the Tuaran Open Track and Field Championship at Stadium Botung in Kota Belud over the weekend left a bitter taste in his mouth.

In a seemingly amateur mistake, the men’s 110m hurdles had to be re-raced following a miscalculation of the distance between the fifth and sixth hurdles.

“It’s not my intention to make this into a big deal but since you asked, yes there was a technical boo-boo and it shouldn’t have happened,” said Rayzam Shah, a gold medalist at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

 “I made my feelings clear after the race and the organisers called for a re-race. My mood was already off and I treated it as a practice session.”

Despite not producing his best, the Sabahan clocked 14.95s to win the race – a far cry from his national record of 13.67s. Alvine Jostine came in second at 14.97s while Muhammad Ridzwan Ridal was third (15.20s)

Rayzam Shah said the crash at the Malaysian Grand Prix in April still haunted him. He was leading at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil when he lost control at the final hurdle and crashed to the ground and broke his wrist. He finished fourth and was rushed to Hospital Serdang.

“I’m still scarred. That was why I didn’t push myself when the organisers called for the race to be run again. Accidents happen in hurdles and pole vault and it is important that the technical officials pay extra attention to these events.”

National Sports Council of Sarawak elite sprints and hurdles coach Noraseela Khalid said it was high time organisers scrutinised the technical officials.

“There is no point organising events if the technical aspects are overlooked. This episode shouldn’t have happened,” said the former national hurdler who competed at the 2012 London Olympics.

“The organisers of the meet were great and they have done a lot for athletics in the state but the technical officials spoilt it. The organisers were apologetic but we just hope that such a mistake does not happen again.”

“We hope this will serve as a lesson. We need to educate the stakeholders to ensure professionalism when organising events. Only then we can spot more talents.”

Fight for Change 2019

Noraseela also pointed out that the 400m boys’ and girls’ hurdles and the 800m races were missing from the National Backup Talent Carnival (Karnival Pelapis) organised by the Malaysian Athletics Federation (Oct 5-6) at the National Sports Council’s Mini Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

“I don’t understand why these events are missing at the grassroots. Don’t tell me we can’t find a handful of runners to compete in these races?

“Perhaps this explains why it’s been 13 years and my 400m hurdles national record (of 52.06s) remains unbroken. I hope to see someone break it but if we aren’t organising events at the younger level, how will any young girl ever work towards doing it?”