HANOI: Nor Sarah Adi (pix) vaulted to a surprise gold medal with a 4.00 m effort, her personal best, in the women’s pole vault event at the 31st SEA Games here today, ending the 11-year gold medal drought for Malaysia in the event.

The 22-year-old athlete, who was supposed to only participate in the women’s 4x100-metre (m) relay in her first appearance at the biennial Games, emerged as champion, beating Thailand’s Chonticha Khabut (3.80 m) and Alyana Martinez (3.60 m) of the Philippines, who won the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

After the sweet surprise, the Pahang-born athlete joined the women’s 4x100m quartet to win the bronze medal.

Nor Sarah, together with S. Komalam Shally, Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli and Azreen Nabila Alias clocked 45.32 seconds (s), with Thailand (44.39s) winning gold and Vietnam (45.25s) the silver.

“When I was given the opportunity to compete in the pole vault, which does not come often, I only wanted to give my best even though I did not have much time to train. I only had a month (so) I only focused on the techniques.

“I also suffered from back injuries last week. Alhamdulillah, everything went well. I’m glad to be able to record 4.00 m and winning this gold, it feels like a dream,” Nor Sarah told reporters at My Dinh National Stadium.

The last time Malaysia won the gold in the pole vault event was in 2011 in Indonesia through Roslinda Samsu, who set the Games record at 4.20 m at that time.

Meanwhile, the men’s 4x100m quartet also put on their best performance by clinching the silver medal, running a national record-breaking time of 39.09 s.

The strong combination of Muhammad Azeem Mohd Fahmi who is hailed as Malaysian ‘Usain Bolt’, Muhammad Arsyad Md Saat, Muhammad Zulfiqar Ismail and defending 100m sprint champion Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi managed to break the country’s previous record of 39.27s was set by Nixson Kennedy, Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi, Khairul Hafiz Jantan and Russel Alexander Nasir Taib at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.

Thailand retained the gold medal with 38.58s and broke the Games record of 38.90s that they set at the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur, while Singapore came in third after clocking 39.44s.

“After almost five months of training together at the National Sports Council and with the help of the National Sports Institute, we managed to create a new national record,” said Muhammad Zulfiqar.

Earlier, Savinder Kaur Joginder Singh won the bronze medal in the women’s 800m event after clocking 2:10.240s behind Vietnam’s Anh Khuat Phuong (2:08.740s) and Indonesia’s Agustina Mardika (2:09.90s). — Bernama