Shereen up and running

AFTER some uneasiness earlier, Shereen Samson Vallabouy is now running along nicely with the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF).

In the latest development, the 400m runner was grinning from ear to ear after getting the rare opportunity to compete in the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States from July 15-24 after getting a wild card.

A few months ago, critics had accused MAF of giving little recognition to Shereen's success at the American National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II track and field competition.

The MAF sent Shereen's name for the world meet after she clocked a personal best of 52.68s to win the 400m gold in the Allendale NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships in Michigan.

"I must thank the MAF president (the newly elected

Datuk Shahidan Kassim) and the coaches for selecting me for the world meet," said Shereen who is doing a degree in recreation and tourism at Winona State University in Minnesota.

"It is every athlete's dream to compete in the world meet and I am all fired up to run the race of my life in Oregon.

"I will be competing against the world's best 400m athletes. This will definitely spur me to improve on my personal best.

"I want to break the long standing 400m national record of Rabia (Abdul Salam) of 52.56s, which she did 29 years ago.

"The United States has been a good hunting ground for me as I have improved my personal best a few times in competitions there this year."

The ticket to the World Championships is also an early birthday present to Shereen, who is the youngest daughter of former track stars Josephine Mary and Samson Vallabuoy, as she will turn 24 on July 10.

Josephine said the World Championships is a big meet for Shereen, and she is optimistic that her daughter will rise to the occasion.

"I am confident that Shereen will run a good race to break the national record," said Josephine.

At the last world championships, in 2019 in Doha, Qatar, no Malaysian women's athlete took part. Only men's high jumper Lee Hup Wei got a wild card.

For the 2017 world meet in London, Malaysia's wild card was Nauraj Singh. In 2015, Beijing, triple jumper Hakimi Ismail represented Malaysia.

The last Malaysian women's athlete to appear (on a wild card) in the World Championships, in 2011 in Daegu, South Korea was 100m runner Norjannah Hafiszah Jamaludin who finished 39th.

Meanwhile high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa will feature for the second time in the World Championships after qualifying as the 30th ranked high jumper in the world. The top 32 made the cut.

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