Irfan determined to go the distance (The Straits Times) | Lao Tribune

Irfan determined to go the distance (The Straits Times)

HE MAY be just a teenager, but Malaysia’s Irfan Shamsuddin is already carving out his own SEA Games legacy.

The 19-year-old discus thrower, the youngest of the competitors yesterday, managed an impressive 56.62m to secure his second consecutive Games gold.

Thailand’s Benjaroon Narong took silver with 52.59m and his compatriot Numsomboon Kwancha finished third with 51.02m.

Yet Irfan, who ended retired Singaporean discus legend James Wong’s 18-year stranglehold on this event at the 2013 SEA Games, revealed that he had not fulfilled his own expectations.

After all, he had failed to rewrite Wong’s Games record of 59.90m, despite a 58.04m personal best at the Malaysia Open Championships in March.

“I had just recovered from an injury – my groin was pulled. I’m not really disappointed, but I feel (my effort was) not complete.

“I did want to break James Wong’s record here. He was my inspiration to become the next long-term defending champion, for 10 Games maybe,” said Irfan.

The young Malaysian was among other athletes who retained their titles yesterday.

In the women’s 10,000m, Indonesia’s Triyaningsih repeated her 2013 Games victory, clocking 33:44.53, which was not only her best time this season but also an improvement on her 34:32.68 winning time in Myanmar. But it was slower than her 32:49.47 best at the 2009 Games in Laos.

In the men’s 110m hurdles, Thailand’s Jamras Rittidet raced to his fourth consecutive hurdles gold in 13.69sec. It was also the fourth time he had rewritten the Games hurdles record.

What made his victory even more euphoric was the fact that his Thai team-mate – an athlete he describes as his “sister” – Wallapa Punsoongneun, clinched the women’s 100m hurdles gold in 13.56sec.

The day was capped by a second Games record, this time by the Vietnam women’s 4x400m relay team. Their time of 3:31:46 catapulted them from a silver medal at the previous Games to gold last night.

These are the repeat customers, those who established a pattern of winning SEA Games golds.

Irfan is already looking forward to another gold medal at the next edition to be held in his homeland. The youngster said: “Next Games in my country. I promise.”