‘Wind assistance’ denies national sprinter of new national record

National sprinter Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli celebrated after setting a new national women’s 100 record of 11.36 seconds at the Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) League Athletics Championships in Pretoria, South Africa.

However, her celebrations were short-lived after she was denied the new national record due to “wind assistance”.

Zaidatul came in second just behind Allysa Conley, who registered 11.23 seconds. Close behind in third and fourth place are Malaysia’s S. Komalam Shally who registered 11.65 seconds, and Siti Fatima Mohamad who finished at 11.68 seconds.

It’s a record but no record 

Zaidatul’s time of 11.36 was good enough to break the record held by G Shanthi at the SEA Games trials at Merdeka Stadium in May 1993. However, her timing will not be recognised due to tailwind factor. The wind reading of 2.5 metres per second during the event is above the limit of 2.0, thus nullifying her record time.

“It’s alright if my time cannot be recognised for a national record, I’m happy that I managed to improve my personal best of 11.62 s set in Palembang three years ago.” the 23-year-old told Harian Metro.

“The new time set has boosted my confidence and I’m going to work hard to retain this momentum. I’m going to focus on the SEA Games after this.”

The Penang-born sprinter also credited her astounding results to her coach, M Balamurugan, and her friends who have always been supportive.

So what is “wind assistance”? 

According to Wikipedia, wind assistance is the benefit that an athlete receives during a race as registered by a wind gauge. Because tailwind can enhance the speed of athlete in events, there is a limit to how much “wind assistance” an athlete can perform under.

The tailwind limit is set 2 metres per second for 100 m/200 m sprint races, 100 metres/110 metres hurdles, triple jump and long jump.

Should an athlete perform with wind assistance exceeding 2 metres per second, the result cannot be registered as a record.

Back in 1996, a sprint athlete from Barbados suffered the same fate in the 100 metres event. Obadele Thompson completed his race in 9.69 seconds, which should have been a new world record. Unfortunately, the tailwind was recorded at 5.0 m/s, so his time could not be recognised.

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