By Chia Jie Min
At first glance, it looks like Sakinah Muslimah is fast following in the footsteps of national triple jump record-holder Mariam Shazana.
Just like how Mariam first broke the national Open record at age 14 with her 11.36m leap at the West Australian Little Athletics meet (Wala) in 2005. Sakinah, who is the same age now, cleared 11.32m at the recent Schools National Track and Field Championships to break the C Girls' meet record by a whopping 21cm.
The difference, however, is this: While Mariam, now 18, has pushed the national mark to 11.73m, Sakinah is already leaping up to 11.8m in training.
In fact, national jumps coach Valeri Obidko predicts that his latest protege, who is from the Singapore Sports School, will breach the 12m mark by next year.
'If everything goes well, she will clear 13m in three years. She is the best female jumps talent I have seen so far here,' said the former Russian long jumper who, since arriving here in 2003, has produced national record-holders Matthew Goh, Stefan Tseng and Mariam.
Sakinah, who has a personal best of 5.21m in the long jump, is also capable of reaching the 6m mark in two to three years, said Obidko. The current national record is 5.88m set by Yu Long Nyu in 1993.
'She was capable of doing 5.50m at the schools championships but I had to stop her after four jumps because of the rain,' said Obidko of Sakinah, who won the C Girls' title with 4.92m, a poor distance by her standards.
Going by the standards set at last year's South-east Asia Games, it means that Sakinah could be within striking distance of a medal at the 2013 edition. The fourth-placed distances for the triple and long jumps at Laos 2009 were 13.22m and 6.21m respectively.
Said Obidko: 'She needs to gain more consistency but I believe she can go far.'
This article was first published in The Straits Times.