At the 2015 Singapore Asean Para Games (APG), Haikal Mazlan cheered as his elder brother Farihin competed in the long jump event. Two years on, Haikal is making strides to emulate his sibling.
While Farihin leapt 4.95m at the National Stadium, Haikal cleared 5.35m at the National University of Singapore yesterday to win gold at the ongoing Special Olympics Singapore National Games.
Haikal's recent results may be insufficient for him to qualify for the Kuala Lumpur APG in September but his coaches believe it is only a matter of time before the Grace Orchard School student competes on the international stage.
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His teacher Tamil Selvi said: "He's only 14 but he's shown that he's got talent. When I first saw his jump, his flight technique was beautiful. I told him that long jump is his forte. He's got to build on it."
Haikal, who has mild intellectual disability, picked up the sport in 2014 and started training seriously for it last November. He said: "I want to jump even further and to represent Singapore one day."
He travels three nights a week to either Bishan Stadium or Kallang Practice Track to work with former national athletes C. Veeramani and Muhamad Hosni.
Veeramani noted Haikal has improved his distance by almost 1m in six months. He said: "Speed and power-wise, we haven't pushed him to his full potential yet.
"He's completely different from six months ago, more pro-active in asking questions. It shows he's got a goal and he's motivated to improve."