Happy parents victorious in steeplechase races
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Muhammad Al Quraisy, or “Arab” as he is nicknamed, won the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase on Saturday to help West Java retain their top position in the medal hunt in the National Games (PON) 2012.
The champion said that he dedicated the victory to his new baby, who was born on Sept. 6 without him being around.
The happy father shot to the finish line in 9 minutes 20.99 seconds at the Rumbai athletics stadium. Following him were Bangka Belitung’s Ferdy Irianto, three seconds later, and Central Java’s Moch. Mujianto.
The only extra that Quraisy missed out on was his failure to improve upon his own national record that he set at the 2011 SEA (Southeast Asian) Games in Palembang, South Sumatra, when he recorded his best time of 8:55.91.
“I hadn’t enough preparation as I only trained for 40 days,” he said.
“At the same time, there were also a number of incidents that distracted my focus.”
He said he split time between training and waiting for his baby. He admitted to being a bit distracted when his wife had to undergo leg surgery ahead of the Games.
Trying to cope with the huge pressure of the high expectations of the West Java sports board to win the medal, the 23-year-old was determined simply to be content with gold, nothing more.
“We decided not to force myself to improve my time, but just to win it,” said Quraisy, who is making his Games debut.
“The prospect of winning bonuses and the new-born baby motivated me to win the race,” he said.”
He hoped that his training program would continue after he returned home, aiming for the next SEA Games in Myanmar.
In the women’s 3,000m steeplechase, 29-year-old athlete Rini Budiarti was barely challenged to claim victory in 10:01.77 to deliver gold to Jakarta.
Yulianingsih of East Java and Adriana Waru of East Nusa Tenggara finished second and third, respectively.
Rini also broke the Games’ old record of 10:33.51 that she herself had set in the last Games four years ago. She came just a second away from equaling her national record of 10:00.58.
She set her best mark during the 2011 SEA Games on her debut in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
“What is important to me is that I broke my PON record. But I never expected that I was that close to my national record,” she said, adding that she had trained hard for the gold.
“Training has built my speed and endurance,” she said. Her next challenge in the Games will be in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter events.
Admitting to missing her 3-year-old boy, she said she had promised herself to make time for him upon her return.
“We talked on the phone today and he said, ‘Mama we should go out soon after you come back, OK.’ And I said yes,” said smiling Rini.
The track and field competition, which offers a total of 47 gold medals, had seven up for grabs on Friday. Maluku, East Java and Bali each took one in the women’s 4x400-meter relay, men’s 4x400-meter relay and triple jump respectively. The finals in the hammer throw and vault jump were delayed because of rain.
West Java continued to lead the medal chase in the Games, with 39 sports competed, amassing a collection of 55 gold, 43 silver and 53 bronze medals, as of 8.25 p.m.
Jakarta and reigning champion East Java have alternated between second and third position with the former managing to better the latter by only one gold. Jakarta have 48-56-57 compared to East Java’s 47-47-46.