Three-time Olympic hurdler Ishtiaq dies after fall

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian sport has lost another colourful character with the death of three-time Olympic hurdler Ishtiaq Mubarak (above).

His wife Shamimi Selvarani Abdullah said Ishtiaq died at about 9.55am yesterday after a fall at their home in Ulu Kelang.

The 65-year-old former national hurdler had suffered head injuries.

His daughters Shaniz, 26, and Shakira, 24, said they would dearly miss their "papadam" as they fondly called Ishtiaq.

Ishtiaq's death added to the sadness in the country's sporting fraternity reeling from the deaths of two national athletes - basketball player Jacky Ng Kiat Kee and hockey star Chua Boon Huat.

Ishtiaq shot to the limelight in the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok where he won a bronze medal in his pet event, the 110m hurdles.

Two years later at the age of 19, he made his Olympic Games debut in Mexico.

He went on to compete in two more Olympics - 1972 in Munich and 1976 in Montreal - where he became only the second Malaysian to qualify for the semi-finals after sprinter Tan Sri Dr Mani Jegathesan's feat in Tokyo in 1964.

His prowess in the SEA Games included winning four gold medals in the 1969, 1971, 1973 and 1977 Games.

Ishtiaq survived a car crash in 1970 and was bedridden for nine months. But that did not stop him from going on to become one of the country's top hurdlers of all time.

He suffered a stroke three years ago but that, too, failed to deter him from continuing to train his athletes.

Ishtiaq produced some of the country's top athletes who included decathlete Hanapiah Nasir and also trained Datuk Mumtaz Jaafar, Marina Chin, Zaiton Othman and Saik Oik Cum.

Jegathesan and other former Olympians Datuk Nashatar Singh, Datuk N. Sri Shanmuganathan, Datuk Poon Fook Loke, S. Sabapathy, Datuk Ow Soon Kooi and Deputy Supt Mohinder Singh paid their last respects to Ishtiaq yesterday.

The burial at the Batu Muda Muslim cemetery in Gombak after Friday prayers was attended by a large crowd.