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Monday 21 July 2008

Report 22nd Malaysian Open Masters Athletic Championships

By Aiman Cheah Tiong Chap

Date: 19 & 20 July 2008
Venue: Stadium Utama Kangar, Perlis

This is my third Masters appearance. The first being the 21st Malaysian Open Masters Athletic Championships and the second being the 7th Johore Masters Open Athletic Championships recently.

I had a considerable good preparation for this event and was hoping to do well. Unfortunately, I picked up an injury on my right leg a week before the event. I did my best time on 13th July at the Subang Jaya Town Council Stadium, clocking 25mins 20 secs for the 5km event. I guessed that was the cause for the injury.

Since 30th June, I had been able to do a sub 6 mins per km consistently over 8.4km. On 16th July, I did my normal training for 8.4km and the pain seemed bearable.

However, when I went for swimming on the following day, I found it too painful to do the kicking in breast stroke. With only two days left and after all the hard training for the past three weeks, naturally I felt very frustrated. I decided to see the masseur (or rather physiotherapist).

It was a painful experience and he had a good laugh because he said the pain was already a few days old which he was right. I didn’t feel the pain immediately after the Subang Jaya time trial.

I took Transnasional bus because of the convenience of buying a return ticket. The journey to Kangar was quite comfortable. It took 8 hours to reach Kangar and my college classmate and her husband took me to the Perlis MSN to pick up the bib and later to Federal Hotel.

On competition day, I walked to the stadium. It was just about a 15-minute walk. The women 3km walk had already started when I reached the stadium. I was not too confident of doing well as I could feel the pain when I did my warming up.

After reporting for the event, I only saw 3 other competitors in my category although there were 6 who registered for the event. I was a little disappointed because the 5km event was held outside the stadium.

It was two laps around the stadium and I didn’t know the actual distance. The race started slightly earlier than the scheduled time of 8.30 a.m. I had a good start, trailing my FTAAA technical official friend, Mr Raiei.

He had a slow and steady pace. I was consistently less than 5 metres behind him. I paced with him because I found there was a similarity in our pace during the recent Johore Masters. But at that time, I was left a good 200 meters in the 3km walk because my stamina let me down.

I ran out of steam after about 5 minutes, allowing a few competitors to overtake me. I quickly regain my pace after about 10 seconds and followed them. After a few minutes later, I ran out of steam again, allowing more competitors to overtake me. When I saw competitor 4009, Corporal K. Jayapal overtook me, I thought that was the end of the race for me as I would be the last in the category.

I quickly regained my pace and overtook two competitors. To my shocked, a competitor from India was telling me “run, run, run”. I ignored him and just went on. He was trailing me very closely but I kept going ahead of him. Then I had the third setback. The hamstrings on my right leg began to tighten. I had to give a few slaps on my hamstrings while slowing down again. The Indian competitor was close to me then but still could not overtake me.

Fortunately, there was already a gap with other competitors and none overtook me. I was thankful that there were no cramps. I managed to complete the first lap in 14mins 36secs. My pace had become steadier on the second lap, I had found my rhythm and tried to keep up with Mr. Raiei.

Being a veteran walker, he had a very strong finish. He stepped up his pace as for as 300 metres from the finishing line while I only made my move over some 200 metres hoping to catch up with Corporal K. Jayapal. It was a very close finish but unfortunately for me, Corporal K. Jayapal managed to step up his pace in the last 50 meteres. I was about 3 strides behind him. The second lap was completed in 14 mins 38 secs.

After the race, the Indian walker was still very sore with me. He came up to me and said that I ran. I ignored him. To me, as long as one leg is always on contact with the ground, there will be no running.

Likewise, if one always land with the heel first, knee-bending will hardly occur.

I guessed he must be mad with me because I did not give any response and the fact that he was not able to overtake me. Why should I? Leave it to the judge for they should know their job. However, I was called by the walk judge who was standing near me as I had finished taking photographs for Mr. Raiei.

He told me he is an International walk judge in order to have an air of superiority. Huh, I have been judged by internal walk judges before – a Canadian during the 24-hour walk in Genting Highlands and walking events in Kuala Lumpur.

So, no big deal. I demonstrated my walk and he told me that was perfect but it may not be the same when I was on the road. (Then, I knew he was truly an international walk judge because the report he received was not done by international walk

I told him, if I were to run, the last 200 meters where I went all out was the perfect time to disqualify me for running. He quickly pointed out that he did not say I ran. He only said my style of walking was doubtful at times. He told me he was just sharing the information with me and surely, I thanked him for that.

While waiting for the result, Mr Yu Song came to me and told me that he was disqualified and so was I. At fourth placing, the disqualification made no difference but I could not accept the accusation that I had run in the walking event!

I had a pleasant surprise when the results were announced. I was third. It was my second podium finishing in 3 masters events. A time of 29mins 14 secs and about 20 seconds behind Mr Raiei was not bad considering the condition I was in during the race.

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