Saturday July 21, 2012
Athletes need long-term targets to do well, says Montreal hero Ishtiaq
ISHTIAQ Mubarak created history at the 1976 Montreal Games by setting an Asian record of 13.80 in the 110m hurdles semi-finals.
For his efforts, the Malacca-born hurdler was chosen to feature in the World Cup in Dusseldorf, Germany, the following year – a singular honour for a Malaysian athlete.
He was also the flag-bearer for Malaysia in Montreal.
Ishtiaq made his debut at the 1968 Mexico Olympics at the age of 20 but failed to reach the second round.
Four years later in Munich, he suffered a hamstring injury a week before the Games and failed to get past the first round.
His best moment came in Montreal as he not only surpassed the qualifying mark of 13.90 but also reached the semi-finals where he notched a personal best of 13.80.
Ishtiaq, now 64, said he was at his peak in Montreal and his Asian record in the 110m hurdles was the highlight of his career.
China’s Liu Xiang holds the new Asian and Olympic record of 12.91, which he set in winning the gold at Athens 2004.
“It was a big honour to be selected to represent Asia in the 1977 World Cup, which was an inter-continental meet then.
“Only the best athletes from their respective continents were selected,” he said.
Ishtiaq attributes his superb performance in Montreal to careful planning to peak at the Games.
“Athletes today don’t do well because they don’t have long term targets,” said Ishtiaq, who is the national back-up coach.
“Those days, we had to qualify on merit as there was no wildcard entries.
“Today, countries whose athletes don’t qualify on merit are allowed to send one male and one female as wild cards.”
Malaysia will be represented by 400m hurdler Noraseela Khalid and high jumper Lee Hup Wei at the London Games.
Both failed to qualify and will be going as wild card entries to make up the numbers.
The 33-year-old Noraseela, who is making her Olympic debut, has been struggling this year and failed to come close to her national record, and personal best, of 56.02, which she did in 2006.
Hup Wei, 25, is featuring in his second Olympics.
He broke the national record of 2.27m in the China Open in Beijing in May, 2008, to qualify for the Beijing Games that year.
But he too has been struggling to come close to his personal best.
Ishtiaq hopes Norseela and Hup Wei will redeem themselves by doing well in London.