DEBUTANT Iskandar Alwi was in sizzling form as he broke his own national record in the men’s pole vault event with a new height of 5.10m en route to winning the silver medal at the Wunna Theikdi main stadium in Naypyitaw on Monday.
He improved his national record by 9cm, erasing his previous record of 5.01m, which he set in the Federal Territory All-Comers meet in Bukit Jalil in March.
The last Malaysian to win a medal in the men’s pole vault at the SEA Games was Teh Weng Chang, who won the gold in Kuala Lumpur in 2001.
The 19-year-old Iskandar from Johor Baru had no problem clearing 4.60m on his first attempt but he needed a second attempt to clear 4.80m.
The bar was raised to 5.00m and he did will to soar the height on his first try.
And the bar was raised another 10cm and Iskandar showed nerves of steel to clear it on his third attempt, and break the national record.
The bar was then raised to 5.15m and Thailand’s Kreeta Sintawacheewa had no problem clearing it on his first attempt to win the gold for the third consecutive time at the Games, while Iskandar failed on all three attempts.
The 24-year-old Thai made three attempts to clear 5.22m to break the Games record of 5.21m but he failed to do so.
Another Thai pole vaulter, Sompong Saombankuay, cleared 5.00m to win the bronze.
Iskandar said he almost gave up hope after failing to clear 5.10m on his first two attempts.
“But coach Manshahar (Abdul Jalil) told me not to give up and to focus on the third jump.
“I thank him for giving me the confidence to clear the height to better my record by 9cm.
“It is my first Games and I did well to break a record and win the silver,” said Iskandar, who is pursuing pre-university studies at the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).
Manshahar said that Iskandar has a bright future in the pole vault event but needs to improve his mental strength.
“However, I am happy with his performance as he is only 19 and he has proven that he can improve further to qualify for the Asian Games in Incheon next year,” said Manshahar.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian men’s relay team of Eddie Edward, Mohd Shahmimi Azmi, Mohd Azhar Ismail and Harith Ammar Mohd Sobri finished fourth in the 4x100m with a poor time of 41.35.
Only five countries featured in the relay and Thailand retained the gold by clocking 39.75.
Singapore finished a close second in 39.79 while Indonesia clocked 40.15 to bag the bronze.
Thailand also won the women’s 4x100m relay gold with a time of 44.42.
Vietnam clocked 44.99 to bag the silver while Indonesia took home the bronze in 45.88.
However, the Malaysian women’s 4x100m comprising S. Komalam Shally, Noor Amira Nafiah and Zulkifli twins – Zaidatul Husna and Zaidatul Husniah, were disqualified for a fault during the baton change between Komalam and Husniah.