PETALING JAYA: It was two out of two for Malaysia at the 400m finals of the SEA Games today when national athletes topped both the men’s and women’s podiums.
Umar Osman, 19, won gold in the men’s 400m event after setting a new national record of 46.34s in Phnom Penh. The previous record was set 22 years ago by Zaiful Zainal Abidin at the Asian Junior Championships (46.41s).
Track star Shereen Samson Vallabouy, 25, clinched the women’s 400m gold medal, ending a 24-year wait for the title which stretched back to the 1999 SEA Games in Brunei when it was won by N Manimagalay.
The national 400m women’s record holder, Shereen clocked a time of 52.53s to clinch gold ahead of Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Huyen (53.27s) and Nguyen Thi Hang (53.84s).
Shereen told Berita Harian that she had a hard time adjusting to the weather and jet lag but was glad they were minor speed bumps on her road to today’s victory.
“I have been working hard to win this medal since joining the SEA Games for the first time in 2015, and it has paid off,” said the US-based athlete.
“All the training in the US helped improve my performance, especially in terms of technique,” said Shereen, who thanked her family for their support.
Shereen set a new women’s 400m national record with a time of 51.8s last month, breaking the previous mark of 52.56s set by Rabia Salam 30 years ago.