Friday, November 9, 2007

Shahrom: I need to win gold for the sake of the sport

SHAHROM Abdullah (pic) will be out to play a big role for duathlon in the SEA Games next month.

The 28-year-old Kelantanese has been involved in the sport for the last six years and he believes that winning the regional crown in the competition to be held in Pattaya would be a major boost to promote and popularise the sport, which is relatively new in Asia.

“It is going to be an eye opener for many and I am sure a couple of medals from duathlon would give the sport a major boost,” said Shahrom, who was ranked at number 14 in the world three years ago.

“My rankings have dropped because there is a lack of competition in this part of the world. Most of the circuits are in Europe and unless the sport gets a lifeline here, it is difficult to see better response from the Asian athletes.”

Shahrom, who is currently ranked among the top 100, added that the fight for the gold medal should come from two-time Asian champion Ryan Mendoza of the Philippines.

“I have raced against many top duathletes, including world number one Joerie Vansteelant from Belgium. I need this gold for the sake of the sport,” he said.

Besides Shahrom, the other entry for men’s duathlon at the SEA Games is Sabahan Heidilee Mohamed. The women competitors are Mariana Mohamed and Stephanie Chok Kui Eng.

The 29-year-old Mariana, a mother of two, is also a top contender for the gold medal as she is ranked among the top 50 female duathletes in the world. She finished a creditable fifth in the Powerman Malaysia Duathlon in Lumut last year.

Malaysia, who won the gold and silver at the 2005 Manila SEA Games in triathlon, will once again be banking on Kimbeley Yap to defend the crown in the women's category. In Manila, when triathlon made its debut in the Games, the silver medal came from United States-based Loh Yeong Shang.

Malaysia's other female triathlete for the Games is Ooi Chiew Wei while seasoned campaigner Razani Husain will spearhead the men's challenge together with Wei Kuo Hau in Pattaya.

In duathlon at the Games, athletes will race in a 10km run, 40km cycling and 5km run competition. The triathlon event is over 1.5km swim, 40km cycling and 10km run.

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