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Post SEA Games Interview – Elfi Mustapa, “I was expecting us to bring home a medal for the 4x100m”
  • January 5th, 2010

The last SEA Games interview was a spotlight on sprinter Izwan Firdaus, and now we bring you another interview with his 4x100m national teamate Elfi Mustapa.

Elfi as he is affectionately known, was a former soccer player turn sprinter, who discovered his natural ability to sprint when he finished credibly at a varsity meet.

Since then he had a meteoric rise, achieving personal bests, and his sprinting journey so far culminating last December for the SEA Games in Laos, being an integral member of the 4x100m quartet that broke the 2007 record of 40.10 seconds, lowering it to 39.82 seconds.

Photos courtesy of Elfi Mustapa.


Mustapa Md Elfi

Elfi Mustapa dons our red and white proudly at the SEA Games Laos edition

Elfi Mustapa dons our red and white proudly at the SEA Games Laos edition

Gender: Male

Affiliation: Wings Athletics Club, NUS

Coach: Melvin Tan

Post SEA Games result: 4×100m 39.82s 2nd (NR, PB)


So the SEA Games is over, what are you doing currently.

I am enjoying the last few weeks of freedom that I have, before the new semester of school begins in January.

Going into the SEA Games Laos what were your goals, and expectations.

Personally, I was expecting us to bring home a medal for the 4x100m, given our neighbours performances. I prayed hard for us to get silver at least, and it turned out to be a reality.

What was your normal daily routine when you were at Laos.

I was there for a fairly long time before my race, about ten days. There wasn’t anything much to do there, so it was basically breakfast, lunch, dinner and walkabouts around the village. We had trainings roughly on alternate days, with some light jogs in between.

How was the SEA Games village experience?

The SEA Games village was better than expected for me. The accommodation was proper and the food was pretty fine, though not the best of foods that you would want. Most importantly there was WiFi!

Were you able to execute your competition plans by your coach (Hamkah and Melvin) successfully for the 4x100m finals. What was told of you for the finals? Again share with us your experience running the race.

It was definitely nerve-wrecking moments minutes before the race. I knew we stand a high chance of getting on the podium. It all boils down to our mentality and how much we wanted it.

The team huddled in unity

The team huddled in unity

All of us were really focused as we entered the call room. Before the race, the four of us had a loud cheer in front of the stands and the other relay teams, which kind of gives a statement to the rest that we were ready for war. And the rest, is history.

Tell us about your coach, Melvin Tan.

Mr Melvin Tan has coached me since end of 2008. He came in as coach of NUS track & field, and after the IVP 2008, I decided to give it a shot after he saw the potential in me. Mr Tan took me under his care up till today.

Share with us the relationship and arrangement you have with your coach, and the sacrifices he made.

Elfi's coach Melvin Tan

Elfi's coach Melvin Tan

I am very grateful to Mr Tan, he has brought me a long way in a short period of time. Although we have disagreements at times, I tend to listen to his instructions and follow his training regime most of the time. It is easy for me to voice out my concerns as he is always willing to give a listening ear.

I feel very honored to be under Mr Tan because he is very willing to help although he does not receive anything in return. I must say I owe a lot to him. But I believe that his sincerity in helping me and the other athletes has certainly reaped rewards, and in the future, there will definitely be more to come.

My coach has certainly made a lot of sacrifices just to train us. He has to juggle his own work, family and other commitments, and find time to train us. I believe he realises the potential in us, and if you must know, the four athletes of the record breaking team (Gary, me, Cheng Wei and Amir) are all trained by Mr Tan himself. It speaks volumes of his coaching credibility.

Tell us of your own sacrifices. What do you think you’re missing out compared to an average Singaporean dude, being a full-time student and juggling with training/competitions. Do you even feel that you’re missing out on anything, or the sports itself is your own self-gratification.

I still live my own normal life, being in the sport just complements it. It just means that I have to juggle my time well, to fit everything into my daily routines.

I believe you started out late in athletics, prior to sprinting, what sports were you active with? How were you discovered, and what prompt you to opt for sprinting?

Actually, I have been a pro-athlete since my primary school days. I was active in both athletics and soccer up till Junior College. However, I only had soccer trainings then, and sprinting was just a one off event during sports day or national meets.

Elfi Mustapa at the varsity competition, IVP 2009, capturing gold

Elfi Mustapa at the varsity competition, IVP 2009, capturing gold

What made me turn to sprinting was after I ran in the 200m for IVP 2008, when I finished 3rd, with about two months of training. My coach told me I had potential, I just had the urge to test my limits.

During competition period, on a weekly basis how often do you train. Share with us some of the stuff you do during training.

Usually, Monday will be weights followed by sprint session on Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday is usually rest, and then another gym session on Friday. And then the pre-race warmup before the race day itself.

What are your plans for the next season.

My personal aim, to qualify for 100m Asian Games and to clock a 10.4s timing. Also a medal for the 4x100m at the Asian Games.

Goals and expectations for the next SEA Games 2011 in Indonesia? Will you still be around sprinting?

I hope so. I would love to run the 100m at the 2011 SEA Games and bring home a medal. Another personal aim will be the 100m National Record by then, God willing.


The SEA Games 4x100m finals, courtesy of Thai TV

If there anything in your current pursuit for gold that needs changes or more support.

I believe what will help us athletes is a proper plan for the year that includes the overseas competitions that we will be able to participate in, the qualifying periods and timings, the training schedules etc.

With a proper plan, we athletes are able to work together with our individual coaches towards the targets given. It is actually very simple if we all work together as a team, we will definitely do our nation proud.

What do you think can be done to improve the state of local athletics.

Home coming for the 4x100m national team, who has done the nation proud

Home coming for the 4x100m national team, who has done the nation proud

There needs to be more emphasis on the athletes development. There is a lot of talent out there that shouldn’t be wasted. Talent can come from both the youth and the old. Not only the young can excel, just take a look at our neighbouring countries, Thailand, Vietnam etc.

Athletes are being taken care of from young till they hit their 30’s, and some peak at that age. What I’m trying to say is that, there must be a system or plan to nurture and develop potential and current athletes all they way.

Thailand can do it. Vietnam can do it. Indonesia can do it. I believe Singapore definitely can do it.

What are your opinion on the SSC/MCYS vs SAA spat and war of words.

The media has pointed it all out, and everyone who is sane enough understands that something needs to be ironed out. I just hope things move in the right direction quickly, so that it won’t affect the athletes.


Thank you Elfi for your participation.

Please contact me using the below form if there’s any individual or corporate entity who wishes sponsor and be part of Elfi sporting journey.

[contact-form 1 “Contact form 1”]

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Posted by Uncle Sha.
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