MALAYSIAN Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) deputy president Karim Ibrahim feels the sport is still on course to deliver eight gold medals despite the failure of the men’s 4x400m team to retain the title on Monday.
The quartet of Mohd Zaiful Zainal Abidin, Idris Zakaria, P. Yuvaraj and Zafril Zuslaini finished second behind Thailand.
With two days of athletics competition remaining, Malaysia have won three gold medals through Noraseela Khalid (women’s 400m hurdles), Teoh Boon Lim (men’s 20km walk) and Tan Song Hwa (women’s hammer).
But Karim, who is also the MAAU coaching committee chairman, feels that the team can still better the haul of seven gold medals achieved in Korat two years ago.
“There is no change from our target of winning eight gold medals even though the relay team failed on Monday,” he said.
“I feel the men’s 1,500m (tomorrow) can compensate for the defeat as we have two strong runners (M. Vadivellan and Mohd Jironi Riduan) for the event.
“The bulk of the gold medals will come on the final day (tomorrow), when most of our favourites will be competing.”
Besides Vadivellan and Mohd Jironi, Malaysia’s other gold medal contenders who will see action tomorrow are Lee Hup Wei (men’s high jump), Roslinda Samsu (women’s pole vault) and Noraseela (women’s 400m).
Today, past Games champions Mohd Robani Hassan (2005 Manila) and Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian (2007 Korat) are the best bets to secure a gold in the men’s 110m hurdles.
Meanwhile, Karim was upset over Mohd Zaiful Zainal Abidin’s displeasure and outburst after only finding out in Vientiane that he will not feature in the men’s 400m race.
Teenager Yuvaraj has been selected to race alongside Zafril in the event tomorrow.
“None of the 400m runners qualified on merit for the event. How can Zaiful claim that he was dropped when he did not beat the qualifying mark in the first place?’ said Karim.
“The national coaches selected the best two runners for the event based on current form, which is Zafril and Yuvaraj.
“Zaiful was among the top two in the country after the Malaysian Open (in October) but his form dipped after that when he suffered a heel injury. We held a special trial just before coming to Vientiane to determine the best two runners and Zaiful lost to Yuvaraj by a considerable margin.” STAR