Singapore sprinter Haanee following in dad Hamkah's footsteps
Haanee, making her SEA Games debut with the women's 4x100m relay team, hopes to emulate Hamkah
Thirty years ago, Hamkah Afik, then 17, made his debut at the 1989 SEA Games in Malaysia.
When he hung up his spikes in 2004, Hamkah had medalled on four occasions across seven editions of the biennial meet, including the 200m silver on home soil in 1993.
Now, his 18-year-old daughter is following in his footsteps as she makes her SEA Games bow in Manila as part of the women's 4x100m relay team.
Talk of pressure on Haanee is inevitable, but Hamkah believes, from experience, that for her to succeed in future, the key is to manage expectations now.
"I would be lying to say there isn't any pressure because of my name," Hamkah, who trains Haanee in his role as Temasek Polytechnic (TP) coach along with Tang Ngai Kin, told The New Paper.
"It is tough on her, but it's not a unique situation, you have (football legend) Fandi Ahmad and his sons... The pressure will always be there... But it's important to know what stage of her development she is at.
"To be honest, she is not at the SEA Games level yet... It took me three SEA Games to win my first medal... My first two Games were about exposure and acclimatising, and the experience helped in my development.
"So, similarly, Haanee needs to get exposed to the Games village, food, weather conditions and learn from the experience.
"I also remind Haanee that, in sport, there will be ups and downs but, if you are mentally strong, nothing can hinder you from reaching the top."
Haanee has indeed started her climb to the top, after being called up to the national team for the first time in April.
The second-year biomedical science student has recorded four personal bests (PBs) just this year alone, as she works towards her goal of breaking the 12-second barrier within three years.
At the IVP Track & Field Championships in January, Haanee clocked 12.66 seconds in the 100m. Six months later, she recorded 12.59 at the Vietnam Open.
She went on to better that twice this month, first at the SEA Games trials, where she clocked 12.50 and then, 13 days later, she hit 12.42 at the POL-ITE Championships.
Haanee hopes to achieve another PB at the Games, and that her effort would help her team - Kugapriya Chandran, Shanti Pereira, Bernice Liew, Elizabeth-Ann Tan and TP schoolmate Clara Goh - to a podium finish.
To help Haanee realise her SEA Games goal, her father will also be making the trip there, though not in his capacity as the men's national team head coach.
"My father has inspired me since I was young," said Haanee.
"I grew up reading newspaper articles and watching video clips of him, and it piqued my interest... I wanted to experience the same emotions as he did.
"But it wasn't easy for him. He went through a lot of challenges, but rose above them to achieve various accolades...
"There was a period where he had to balance work, training and night classes while my mother was expecting... I admire his grit, it spurs me to push on when times get rough.
"Just as impressive was how he handled unexpected circumstances, and not let them affect his performance.
"For example at the 1991 Games in Manila, the bus he was on was delayed due to bad traffic. But that didn't faze him. He stood up and started doing his warm-up... He finished last, but achieved a PB... I hope to be like him one day."
Hamkah said: "I see Haanee in myself. She is very driven and her single-mindedness will help her overcome obstacles."
Driven. It is the word Haanee chooses to describe herself.
Perhaps it is no coincidence, but, as Hamkah's past has shown, it is a vital characteristic to have as she follows in her father's footsteps.