NAURAJ Singh Randhawa lived up to his name to become Malaysia’s ninth Sea Games high jump king after a flawless display at the Wunna Theikdi Stadium yesterday.
Harith Ammar Sobri, who had never run a 200 metres international race before, surprised everyone by taking silver in the event, the first medal for Malaysia in the longer sprint since Nazmizan Muhammad’s double in 2003.
However, it was Nauraj, whose name translates as “nine kings” in Hindi, who bore the burden of continuing Malaysia’s winning run in the high jump which eight Malaysians had won before.
Taking over the mantle from three-time champion Lee Hup Wei, Nauraj did not miss a single attempt as he saw off the competition after clearing 2.17m.
Electing to pass 2.21m, which would have bettered his personal best of 2.20, Nauraj went for Loo Kum Zee’s 1995 Games record of 2.24m but failed.
“I’m glad I got to be the ninth king,” said Nauraj, 20, after making his Sea Games debut.
“I’m satisfied with my performance and this win is for the country and all those who supported me.
“I went for the record because I’ve never cleared that height and I wanted to get a feel of what it’s like to go that high.”
Nauraj and teammate S. Navinraj, who finished fifth after clearing 2.09m, were almost caught off guard when their event was brought forward by an hour without notice.
“Actually, it was a bit messed up. I did not get to warm up and it was during the competition that I warmed up,” said Nauraj, who only made his first attempt at 2.05m and subsequently cleared 2.13 and 2.17 without trouble.
“It was a challenge but I faced it and did not let it change my mindset.” The silver medal for Harith, 19, was remarkable as, never having run under 22 seconds before, he clocked 21.75 in the heats and then 21.46 in the final.
The sprinter from Terengganu, already surprised to make the podium, was initially classified third in the same time as Vietnam’s Le Trong Hinh but as he was speaking to reporters, the scoreboard showed he had been upgraded to second to further astonishment.
“I can’t believe it,” said an incredulous Harith. “I’ve only run the 200m just once this year and now I can’t believe I’ve got the silver medal.”
Thailand’s Jirapong Meenapra and Vietnam’s Vu Thi Phuong completed the sprint double after winning the men’s and women’s 200m gold respectively.
Malaysia had no representative in the women’s long jump after Noor Amira Nafiah (heel) and Noor Shahidatun Nadia Zuki (hamstring) pulled out due to injuries.
RESULTS (Malaysia unless stated) — Men’s 200m: 1 Jirapong Meenapra (Tha) 21.29s, 2 Harith Ammar Sobri 21.46, 3 Le Trong Hinh (Vie) 21.47 … 7 Shamimi Azmi 21.72.
3,000m steeplechase: 1 Christoper Ulboc (Phi) 9:01.59s, 2 Pham Tien San (Vie) 9:02.50, 3 Patikarn Pechsricha (Tha) 9:04.04.
High jump: 1 Nauraj Singh Randhawa 2.17m, 2 Dao Van Thuy (Vie) 2.13, 3 Pramote Pumurai (Tha) 2.13 … 5 S. Navinraj 2.09.
Decathlon: 1 Jesson Ramil Cid (Phi) 7,038 pts, 2 Zakaria Malik (Ina) 6,711, 3 Nguyen Van Dat (Vie) 6,383.
Women’s 200m: 1 Vu Thi Huong (Vie) 23.55s, 2 Neeranuch Klomdee (Tha) 24.02, 3 Nguyen Thi Oanh (Vie) 24.13 … 7 S. Komalam Shally 24.95.
3,000m steeplechase: 1 Rini Budiarti (Ina) 10:04.54s, 2 Nguyen Thi Oanh (Vie) 10:30.92, 3 Jessica Barnard (Phi) 11:04.84.
Long jump: 1 Maria Londa (Ina) 6.39m, 2 Thitima Muangjan (Tha) 6.24, 3 Bui Thi Thu Thao (Vie) 6.14.
Javelin: 1 Saowalak Pettong (Tha) 52.96m, 2 Natta Nachan (Tha) 50.37, 3 Bui Thi Xuan (Vie) 48.31.