Sports

Let's roar Gary and Amirudin to glory

If U K Shyam could add one more feather to his track resume, which started in 1992 and ended in 2005, it would be the chance to race in front of a partisan home crowd at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

The SEA Games will return to Singapore for the first time since 1993 this June, and the 39-year-old, who won silver in the blue riband men's 100m at the 2001 Kuala Lumpur Games, feels that with home support roaring them on, Singapore sprinters Gary Yeo and Amirudin Jamal can upset the odds and win gold.

Singapore's leading duo, Yeo and Amirudin, are aiming to dethrone South-east Asia's 100m sprint king Jirapong Meenapra of Thailand.

The 21-year-old Jirapong is the reigning 100m and 200m champion, and is already a hot favourite for this year's event, having twice clocked a personal best of 10.31sec last year.

While improbable, the host nation can certainly dream that one of their gunslingers can pull off a remarkable upset and rock the new National Stadium, along with the rest of the country, by winning gold.

"I didn't get the chance to compete at a SEA Games on home ground, but I'm really happy for Gary and Amir that they will," Shyam said.

"They have to seize the chance. In the 100, you never know, unless you're talking about Usain Bolt in the Olympics."

In 2001, Shyam himself faced a tough Thai adversary in Reanchai Sriharwong, who had won the gold in the '97 and '99 editions of the Games.

Reanchai ended up pipping Shyam to the gold with a time of 10.29, ahead of Shyam's 10.37.

"Jirapong is damn fast, just like Reanchai," Shyam said.

"It's important to see the sprinter's times during the year leading up to the Games.

"Last year, he clocked 10.31 twice, and this year I heard he is already down to 10.47 - which means there's a very good chance he can hit 10.31, again.

"I can't tip who will win the 100, but I will say that whoever runs for Singapore will have thousands of people behind them at the National Stadium.

"In the 100, the difference between gold and silver is less than 0.1s. Gary and Amirul must use the crowd support to give them that difference."