The old record stood at 56.57m set by Thailand’s Mingkamon Koomphon at the 2015 Sea Games in Singapore where she won the gold. Mingkamon, however, could only win the silver this time, recording 56.15m also with her first throw.
Compatriot Panwat Gimsrang won the bronze with a hurl of 56.06m.
Grace immediately dedicated the gold to her late mother Lina Awaru who passed away in April due to illness.
“This is for you mum. I miss you so much,” said an emotional Grace, who pocketed RM2,000 – an incentive from Malaysian Athletics Federation – RM1,000 for a gold and RM1,000 for a new games record.
The 17-year-old Grace, who also holds the national record 60.99 set in a meet in South Korea in April, is now gunning for greater heights in her pet event after switching from shot put because of her height.
The Papua New Guinea-born is the niece of former national men’s hammer throw champion Wong Tee Kui. She won a bronze in her debut Sea Games in Singapore in 2015.
With her success at the Nasional Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Thursday, Sarawak athletes completed a grand double in both hammer events.
Jackie Wong Siew Cheer won the men’s event on Wednesday and in the process broke the national and Sea Games record with a new distance of 65.34m.
Grace’s coach Gu Yuan, a former Asian champion from China, has set a new target for Grace – to achieve 62m – which she believes is within Grace’s reach.
“It is within her reach. Grace should be throwing 62m by next year. I am confident winning the Sea Games gold will spur her to do better. In fact she is showing a lot of promise in her event,” said Gu Yuan, adding that the Asian Games is the next target.
A jubilant Grace, a Form Four student of Bukit Jalil Sports School, could not hide her delight in winning the gold in front of the her father Wong Tee Ing – who had flown in from Kuching to lend her support.
Grace won the bronze in her Sea Games debut in Singapore in 2015 and in the process became the youngest Malaysian Track and Field athlete to win a medal in the history of the biennial Games.
After winning the gold Grace also quipped: “Now I can have my McDonalds.” – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH