SUKMA debutant Iskandar Alwi’s decision to switch from high jump to pole vault six years ago has paid off handsomely.
The 18-year-old from Johor was in smashing form as he upstaged the more experienced Mohd Fahme Zamzam Mehamad of Federal Territories to break the Sukma record with a height of 4.80m at the Darul Makmur Stadium yesterday.
His effort shattered the six-year-old mark of 4.71m, set by Wong Teck Ho of Sarawak in Kedah in 2006, by nine centimetres.
Only five athletes took part in the event and Fahme, who has a personal best of 4.75m, could only clear 4.50m to bag the silver. Mohd Iqbal Hakim, also of Johor, took the bronze on 4.30m.
Two months ago in Kangar, the Kluang-born Iskandar broke the National Schools (MSSM) meet record with a personal best of 4.73m – erasing the old mark of 4.60m.
Iskandar broke the Sukma record by clearing 4.72m in his first jump. But he was far from done as he asked for the bar to be raised to 4.80m – and clearing it in his first attempt.
He then raised the bar to 4.90m. Despite being cheered on by the fans, he failed on all three attempts.
Iskandar said he was confident of breaking the Sukma record after achieving a personal best of 4.73m in Kangar.
“But I never expected to improve it by nine centimetres.
“After clearing the height, I became too ambitious as I wanted to break Teh Weng Chang’s national record of 5.00m and asked for the bar to be set at 4.90m. Sadly, I couldn’t clear it,” said Iskandar.
“I am thrilled to have broken the Sukma record in my first outing. I have my coach Mustafa Kamal to thank for my achievement. He has been coaching me for the last six years.
“I began my athletics career as a high jumper when I was 14 and studying at the Tun Hussein Sports School in Kluang. Luckily, I switched to pole vault on the advice of coach Mustafa.”