KUALA LUMPUR – Despite cramps and drawing an outer lane, Trenten Anthony Beram hurdled both obstacles for the country’s first athletic golden double in the 29th Malaysian Southeast Asian Games with a heroic win in the men’s 400-meter run at the National Stadium here Thursday night.
The top-notcher in the qualifiers earlier in the day, the cramp-stricken Beram was inexplicably drawn in the more difficult lane No. 7, while hometown rival Muhammad Azam Masri, who was fourth in the prelims, was placed in the favorable inside lane No. 5.
But the apparent ploy by the Malaysian hosts to give their athlete an added edge backfired as the gallant Filipino-American runner accelerated in the last 10 meters in winning the gold in 46.39 seconds, serving a fitting follow-up to his triumph in the men’s 200-meter race on Wednesday.
In what seemed like poetic justice, Thailand’s P Sunthontuam took silver (46.46 seconds), Vietnam’s Quach Cong Lich, the 2015 Singapore SEAG silver medalist in the event, bronze (46.48 seconds) while Masri wound up fourth (47.24 seconds)
It marked the first time in recent memory that a Filipino runner was able to sweep both the men’s 200 and 400-meter runs in Southeast Asia’s premier sports showcase.
In the only other night's results, Janry Ubas could only muster a leap of 7.75 meters in the men’s long, good for bronze.
“I felt the cramps just an hour before the race,” the University of Connecticut student bared while breathing heavily. “We did a lot of massage and hydration because I really felt heavy entering the race.
“I knew I had to give my 100,000 percent to win. I just thank God that he gave me the strength to do it.”
Fuming on the sidelines was national team manager Edward Kho, who questioned track technical officials why Beram had been relegated to the outer and more challenging lane.
“They seemed to have played around with the international track rules that the top four qualifiers can be assigned to lanes No. 4, 5, 6 and 7,” Kho said. “Our athlete was the top qualifier so why should he placed in the outer lane.”
Though taxed to the hilt by challenging conditions he faced, Bertram merely shrugged them off, saying: It’s still 400 meters all around. I just couldn’t see my competitors. But it still sprint so you have to run as fast you can.”
After two straight grueling days of racing, he had only one thing on his mind: “Time to get me much-needed sleep.”