HE national women’s 4x100m relay squad provided a pleasant surprise as the first track and field athletes to surpass the qualifying mark for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games after the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) set the sixth-placed timings of the last edition as the benchmark for qualification.
High jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa, pole vaulter Iskandar Alwi and the women’s 4x400m quartet have also met the same requirement for the Incheon Asian Games in the 12-month qualifying period from last September.
The biggest surprise is the women’s sprint quartet, whose time of 45.98 seconds set at the Perak All-Comers meet in Ipoh last October beat the fourth-placed time of 48.87s posted by Nigeria in New Delhi at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) has yet to issue the qualification marks for either the Commonwealth Games on July 23-Aug 3 or the Asian Games on Sept 19-Oct 4.
But a check by Timesport showed that the women’s 4x100m quartet of twins Zaidatul Husna and Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli, S. Komalam Shally and Noor Amira Nafiah had beaten the qualifying standard for Glasgow.
Whether OCM will abide by the qualification standard for the women’s 4x100m is a question mark however as a bungled baton exchange led to Nigeria’s poor timing while Jamaica and Sierra Leone were disqualified in the six-team final.
By comparison, bronze medallists India clocked 45.25 seconds, just 0.01s behind silver medallists Ghana with England taking gold in 44.19.
The quartet who ran in Ipoh did themselves no favours as well by being disqualified at the Sea Games last month when the baton exchange between Komalam and Husniah occurred outside the exchange zone.
MAF general manager Datuk Kenneth J. Luis confirmed that the sixth-placed timings will be used as the qualification mark when met on Wednesday but was not able to say if any athletes had qualified.
For the Asian Games, Sea Games high jump gold medallist Nauraj was the first to qualify when he cleared 2.20m at the Malaysian Open in October to beat the qualifying mark of 2.19m.
Lee Hup Wei had also surpassed the mark with a 2.22m clearance but he achieved the feat in June and it is not clear whether he will have to prove himself again.
Iskandar booked his ticket to Incheon by setting a new national record of 5.10m in winning Sea Games silver which bettered the qualifying standard of 5.00m, as did the women’s 4x400m quartet of Siti Nur Afiqah Abd Razak, Nurulassikin Rasid, Fatin Faqihah Yusuf and Nurul Faizah Asma Mazlan despite finishing only fifth in Naypyitaw.
But their time of 3:45.10s was good enough to surpass not just the 3:55.24s clocked by sixth-placed Myanmar in Guangzhou four years ago, but also that of fifth-placed Iraq (3:45.44).
Others who beat or equalled the qualifying requirements outside the qualifying period for the Commonwealth Games are Sea Games 800m champion Jironi Riduan and women’s high jumper Yap Sean Yee while Noor Amira cleared 13.43m in the triple jump to surpass the Asian Games qualifying mark, but that was done last July. By Devinder Singh