Saik Oik Cum
“The 400m Wonder”
Sport: Athletics (Track & Field)
Year Inducted: 2006
The final leg of the track and field event on 17th December 1978 created a stir among the spectators. Saik Oik Cum, a virtual unknown from Malaysia blazed through the 400m track at the Bangkok National Stadium, to claim first place at the Asian Games. She left the other athletes and officials in a state of shock. No one had expected the 18-year-old lass to win the Gold in her first Asian Games debut, much less create a new Games record of 55.09 seconds
When she was only 12 years old, Oik Cum’s school teacher Koay Kok Chaing spotted her natural abilities and decided to take her under his wing. Initially only comfortable with the short sprints, Oik Cum had to be coaxed out of her fears to concentrate on the longer distance.
Her first major race was in 1975 representing Penang in the relay event at the national schools championships, where her team won the gold medal. The win boosted her confidence and helped her overcome any remaining doubts she had about running the 400m. She started raking in the medals throughout her high school years and Koay soon felt it was time for Oik Cum to move further.
He placed her under the tutelage of national coach C. Ramanathan who helped her move on to the next level. She made her first international debut at the 1977 SEA Games where she won the bronze medal. At the Asean Schools meet in 1978, Oik Cum was in excellent form when she set a new national mark in the 200m event. She then set her sights on the Asian Games which was held later that same year, and the rest as they say, is track and field history. She was named Sports Girl of the Year for her outstanding performance in Bangkok.
At the 1981 SEA Games she helped to bag two Gold medals for the national team in the relay events, and created a national record that stood for eight years. Unfortunately, the Penang-born lass only finished a disappointing third at the Asian Track and Field championships later that year. After completing her high school education, Oik Cum entered the payroll of a local bank. Athletics was still not put in the back burner, as she was selected to represent the Asian zone in the World Cup championships in Montreal and two years later in Rome.
Although her athletic career and fame were short-lived, it cannot be denied that this frail, bespectacled lass did outrun her more experienced opponents at the Bangkok National Stadium to win the gold medal for her country in 1978. She made a name for herself on the tracks and for a brief moment in our nation’s sporting history, Saik Oik Cum was the queen of the 400m.
1977 – SEA Games, Bronze Medal
1978 – ASEAN Schools Meet, 200m [National record]
1978 – Asian Games, Bangkok, 400m [Gold Medal, New games record]
1979 – Asian Track & Field Championship
1981 – Asian Track & Field Championship, 400m [Bronze Medal]
1981 – SEA Games, [Two Gold Medals (Relays)]
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