Jonah, Elvin raise S’wak’s future hopes

KUCHING: Malaysia may have found its fastest teenager in 15-year-old Muhammad Azeem Mohd Fahmi from Perak but Sarawak also has potential stars in the form of throw specialist Jonah Chang Rigan.

Apart from Jonah, Sarawak already has several throw specialists who are still in schools while in Elvin Yap Zhi Xian, the state had already found a successor to Sukma hurdling champions Mohd Rizzua or Quek Lee Yong.

Both athletes and a clutch of other athletes from Sarawak shone in the recently held MSSM Inter-State Track and Field championships held in Johor.

Jonah made headlines when he broke the 18-metre mark to win the gold in the SEA junior athletics meet in Llagan, the Philippines when he threw to a new 18.03m in the meet and won two golds in the boys Under 15 hammer throw, discus and shot put and a silver in the Under 18 discus with a throw of 50.47m, just 0.22m off the mark of gold winner Lim How Siang.

The Form Three student of SMK Paoh, Sarikei looks in line to follow the footsteps of top stars down the years like Jackie Wong who won the Sukma title in 1998 in Terengganu, Michael Sia and Jackson Wong by throwing to a distance of 55.82m, although it must be noted that he is using the lighter 7kg hammer in the Under 18 category which is different than the senior weight of 7.26kg.

Women’s hammer thrower Grace Wong trains in Sarikei.

In a state which had produced SEA Games champion in the women’s hammer thrower Grace Wong Xiu Mei, who is still eligible for the next Sukma in Johor, they may have found her successor in Aileenna Thipong Laga from SMK Chung Hua, Miri who displayed her potential with a throw of 48.92m in the Under 18 category.

As predicted, Sarawak also did well in the throws but the surprise was in the jumps where Sarawak had for over a decade never came up with gold medallists either in the long jump or triple jump.

Elvin Yap who set up a new record in the 110m hurdles with a new meet record of 13.69s also raised expectations of a future national champion as he also won the longer 200m hurdles with a time of 23.86s.

Brendon Ting from Miri took the triple jump title in the boys Under 18 when he cleared a 15.27m.

In the Under 15 category Reuben Valen Wellie won the triple jump with a distance of 13.60m to raise hopes of a future champion in Sukma.

Sukma athlete Ruby Lee Jia Lee who won a bronze in the last Sukma, won the long jump gold in the Under 18 category with a distance of 5.72m, raising expectations of her doing well in the next Sukma held in Johor next year.

In the blue riband 4x100m event, Sarawak with Elvin Yap in the relay quartet and powered by 100m bronze medallist Audray M Hillary Jugah turned the table on the Perak who have the sprint sensation Muhammad Azeem in their team by winning the gold.