|NAZMIZAN Muhammad (2nd L) scorches down the trek to win the men's 100 m event at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Dec 7. He later went on to win the 200 m to make it a double.- Bernamapix.||GOLDEN boy Lim Keng Liat with the gold medals won in the 100 m backstroke and 100 m butterfly swimming events. He had earlier won the 200m backstroke and the 4x200m freestyle relay - Bernamapix.|
|LATEST: SWIMMING sensation Alex Lim Keng Liat’s indomitable display at the National Water Sports Palace in Hanoi continued yesterday, with another record chucked into the scrapheap.
The Sandakan lad bagged two golds – the 100m butterfly in record time and the 100m backstroke – to take his personal tally in Hanoi to three golds.
THE most prestigious gold medal of the track event in the 22nd SEA Games has gone to a kampung boy who was not even supposed to set foot in Hanoi.
It took Dungun-born Nazmizan Muhammad 10.47s to end Malaysia’s 36-year wait for the coveted men’s 100m title but the arduous journey to Vietnam was full of sacrifices.
Nazmizan became only the third Malaysian sprinter to grab the title after Datuk Dr M. Jegathesan in Kuala Lumpur in 1965 and G. Rajalingam (Bangkok 1967) and only the 12th national athlete to climb the podium in the century dash.
“I knew I could win because I worked hard. During the Hari Raya break, I even resisted all temptations to indulge.
“All I ate was a piece of ketupat and a plate of rendang. That’s all. During the fasting month, following Maghrib prayers, I was pushed to do speed work after breaking fast with only three pieces of dates.
“Sometimes I felt the training was too tough and wanted to give up but I told myself to remain focused because I was given the chance to compete even though I failed to meet the qualifying mark (10.37s).
“I would like to thank all those who had faith in me. I have repaid them with the gold medal,” said Nazmizan.
Nazmizan, who clocked his personal best of 10.38s in the World University Games in Daegu in August, recovered from a seemingly hesitant start to finish strongly after sticking to his stride pattern and swing.
Thailand’s Sittichai Suwonprateep lunged too fast, hoping to gain a few centimetres over Nazmizan, but had to contend with the silver in 10.49s, followed by Indnesia’s John Muray at third place in 10.59s.
Former Thailand rugby flanker Vissanu Sophanich, who won the dash in 1997, finished fourth in 10.60s.
The aftermath of the race at the National Stadium in My Dinh was a relatively low-key affair.
While the vociferous Vietnam fans were silenced by Nazmizan’s win, the Terengganu runner was left searching for a Malaysian flag to drape himself with.
Since it was a totally an unexpected gold, no Malaysian officials bothered to prepare one at the finish line.
Almost 10 minutes later, his teammates Sharrulhaizy Abdul Rahman, Muhammad Malik Ahmad Tobias, Mohd Robani Hassan, Ahmad Najwan Aqra Hussain and Ahmad Firdaus Salim along with coach Ithnin Mahadi made their way to the finish line.
“Initially I was not sure of the outcome, until Sittichai came and congratulated me,” said Nazmizan.
To those who thought Nazmizan would have been an also-ran had three-time champion Reanchai Seehawong from Thailand been present, four-time gold medallist Suchart Jaesuraparp felt otherwise.
Now part of the Thailand coaching contingent, the former ace gave Nazmizan the highest form of endorsement.
“In the final, anything can happen. Remember how Rabuan (Pit) beat me in New Delhi (Asian Games 100m final) in 1982?
“I was the favourite but lost to Rabuan after a false start. What matters is the gold. Of course we accept defeat graciously and magnanimously. Credit must be given to Nazmizan who ran a good, stable and steady race,” said Suchart.
Swimming: First Gold For Allen
TWO Malaysians enjoyed a golden splash at the Hanoi Water Sports Palace yesterday.
One garnered gold for the first time in four attempts after sneaking into the team despite not having met the qualifying standard.
The other earned the satisfaction of having toppled the defending champion.
All the same, Allen Ong and Siow Yii Ting became champions in their respective events, following in the footsteps of Alex Lim Keng Liat, who bagged the 200m backstroke and the 4x200m freestyle relay on Saturday.
In winning the men’s 100m freestyle, Ipoh lad Allen earned a slot in the Olympics under Category B.
A bronze medallist in 1997 and silver medallist in 1999 and 2001, Allen was happy to land an individual gold at last and repay the faith the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) had in him.
“Winning the gold and qualifying for the Olympics have made up for not having met the qualifying mark of 52.10s. ASUM had to appeal for my participation here and I’m glad to repay their faith with a gold,” he said.
Clocking 51.57s, Allen beat Singapore’s Mark Chay who was second in 51.96s while third went to Miguel Molina of the Philippines (52.85s).
Meanwhile, Yii Ting, who has already earned a spot in Athens, was surprised with her win.
“First of all, this is not my favourite event. I am focusing on the 200m individual. I’m ecstatic to have beaten defending champion Nicolette (Teo),” said Yii Ting.
She clocked 1’13.31 in the 100m breaststroke ahead of Singapore’s Nicolette (1’13.67) and Thailand’s Tassamol Petchsangroj (1’14.11).
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