ROSLINDA Samsu and Lee Hup Wei barely broke a sweat in defending their gold medals at the National Stadium in Vientiane yesterday but there was heartbreak for Noraseela Khalid, who was pipped on the line in the women's 400m.
Zafril Zuslaini sprang a surprise with victory in the men's 400m but it was not enough to prevent Malaysia's worst showing in athletics in 34 years.
Not since the four-gold haul in 1975 in Jakarta has Malaysian athletics delivered less than seven gold medals while the six gold won here also fell short of the Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union's target of eight.
Roslinda won the women's pole vault in a new Sea Games record of 4.15m and needed only three vaults to secure gold after Vietnam's silver medallist Le Thi Phuong managed to clear only 3.90m.
Despite failing at her first attempt at 3.90 -- her opening height -- Roslinda was hardly challenged in winning her third consecutive Sea Games gold.
"I was a little nervous at first after missing that one but I managed to calm myself. The Vietnamese girl appeared to be very confident, probably boosted by the fact that I only did 3.60m at the Asian Championships.
|Roslinda Samsu clears the bar at 4.15m to win her third consecutive Sea Games gold in Laos yesterday.|
"But it was rainy and windy there while the hot condition here is more suited to me. I'm happy to have also got the Games record but I had also hoped to break my national record (4.40m).
"Anyway there is plenty to look forward to next year since I have already qualified for both the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
"But I'll need higher level competitions to prepare for those big events, not competitions like this where the motivation to go higher once you've won is hard to find," said Roslinda, 27, whose best this year remains at 4.35m.
Hup Wei, too, did not need to be at his best as he won his second straight high jump gold with a 2.18m effort long after his challengers fell by the wayside.
"I was going after the Games record (2.24m) but I was having some trouble with my run-up today (yesterday). My technique was fine so I was confident of winning," said Hup Wei, 22.
Noraseela, who won the 400m hurdles on Sunday, was denied a double after leading the 400m final with just 30 metres to go only to be edged near the finish by Thailand's Trewadee Yongphan and Kay Khine Lwin of Myanmar.
Trewadee won in 54.16 seconds, ahead of Kay Khine Lwin (54.25) while Noraseela was left with the bronze after timing 54.32.
Cramps set in as Noraseela, 30, headed for the finish and she nearly swayed into the lane on her right as she struggled home.
"I ran too fast for the first 300 metres and used the wrong strategy. I felt fine with 100m to go but all of sudden I felt stiff and began cramping.
"I'm not used to running 400m flat but it's still so frustrating to miss out on gold. It's been a long year and this was my 30th race I think in all events. I'm just glad to have gotten through the year injury-free," said Noraseela.
|Cheeky Lee Hup Wei celebrates after winning the high jump gold.|
Malaysia were also edged out for gold in the men's 1,500m when Vietnam's Nguyen Dih Cuong completed a middle-distance double by winning in 3:46.58.
Jironi Riduan was again left with the silver medal after being overtaken in the home straight for the second time although he did clock a personal best of 3:47.34 while M. Vadivellan, who paced Jironi over the first two laps, earned bronze in 3:48.99.
The women's 4x100m quartet finished fourth in 45.69 as Thailand won gold in 44.54 to finish top of the athletics medal tally with 13 gold, 20 silver and 14 bronze.
Malaysia ended fifth with a haul of 6-6-4 behind Indonesia (7-7-7), Vietnam (7-4-10) and Philippines (7-2-4). NST