Tana Rayer

National 4x400m Sprinter | Accounting Student | Miss Universe Malaysia 2017 Top 10

23-year old Tanalaksiumy Mahenthiran Rayer of Chinese-Indian heritage; this accounting student and top 10 Miss Universe Malaysia 2017 Finalist demonstrates a Malaysian spirit and style I’d love to see more of! Tana used to run the streets of Brown Gardens, Penang during her childhood, and represented her school Convent Light Street in 100m, 200m and 4x100M. Now, she will run for Malaysia in the lanes at Bukit Jalil National Stadium for the Kuala Lumpur 2017 SEA Games 8.50pm Saturday 26 August 2017. If I were her mum, I’d be damn proud too! 🙂 Bangkit Bersama, Team ash be nimble will be standing by you and cheering you on! If you haven’t gotten into SEA Games fever, admission is free for athletics at the National Stadium, just come lah!

Tana Laksiumy

Q: When and how did you get into beauty pageants? 
A: I wanted to change people’s perceptions that a beauty queen can’t be muscular, or that athletes can’t take part in a beauty contest.

Secondly it was because my sister was in Miss World Malaysia 2011 – same batch as Chloe Chen. I went around with her to help her pick accessories and clothing and styled her. I admired her guts to go on stage and be judged and how she deflected people’s comments about her weight. Despite all that she remained herself and didn’t change.

Q: How did you get into running?
A: As kids the main way to escape the house was going out and playing sports. Back in Brown Gardens, Penang, we would be out every evening at 4pm. (I’ve been there for the last 23 years at my grandfather’s place.) I wanted to follow my sister’s footsteps, she was 7 years older and achieving great things in karate, badminton and athletics. She would go away for sports camps and I wanted to go along! I started running for my school CLS Convent Light Street, then I represented the Zone Jelutong district, then moved on to represent my state Penang in 100m, 200m and 4 by 100m. In 2009 I represented Malaysia for the first time in Little Athletics in 100m and 200m which was held in Bukit Jalil.

Tana Laksiumy ash be nimble

Q: What was your journey like running for Penang?
A: When I watched Dangal recently I cried because I could relate the main character who moved from her small town to a big city, changing from her father as coach to the national official coach: my coach in Penang was a father to me, and I felt like I lost myself a bit when I moved to Kuala Lumpur and started training for the Nationals.
In my first year at MSSM I was racing in the 4x100m relay representing Penang, I was sitting alone and thinking that I want to be here as an individual runner one day. Coach Suntheran Gopal scouted me during MSSM (Majlis Sukan Sekolah Malaysia or Malaysia School Sports Council) in Form 2 in 2008, when I represented Penang. He was my first coach. When I have my off days I go and talk to him – or whenever I’m back in Penang I will try and look for him.
In 2008 when he saw me, he promised that he’ll make me a winner for next MSSM, so my father took me for training in June that year with Coach Suntheran.
In 2009 when I was 15, I participated at the next MSSM. For my first event which was 100M I won bronze. On the second day I really wanted to win a gold so I ran like a madwoman and did win the gold for 200M. I was offered a place at the Bukit Jalil Sports School.
In Form 4 I was supposed to move but my parents and coach didn’t think it would be a good move to go to the sports school. I was disappointed and being a teenager had a lot of conflict with them to deal with. I flopped the MSSM in Form 4. My coach helped me pick up the pieces and in 2011 I came back with a vengeance and I won back gold again for 200m in MSSM for Penang.


Q: When was the first time you represented Malaysia in running internationally?
A: My first international event representing Malaysia in 400m was at the ASEAN University Games (AUG) which as held in Singapore. I managed to get into the Finals and came out 5th. I felt really nervous, ‘damn kan jeong’. It was a new event for me as I was used to 100m and 200m, and being outside Malaysia made me even more worried. But I told myself, you’re gonna give your best because your mum came all the way. Don’t disappoint mum!

Q: What can you tell us about your training and diet?
A: I love my morning runs at 5-530am. Its cold, fresh, the mist is still there and it works for building my stamina more than afternoon runs. My coach, a former Olympian, Josephine Mary, who is the record holder for 800M and my dietician from the National Sport Council will advise me on my training and eating plans.
Like most Malaysians, I really like rice. Like I just whack a lot of it lah! *Laughs*

Tana Running

Q: How do your parents help to support your athletics career?
A: They can see that athletics is way of providing opportunities in education and exposure, and that I have a talent that we wanted to develop. As long as I’m putting in 100% in whatever I do, they will be there to support me, regardless the outcome. They can see that I love doing this. But they also stress that a degree is important.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge?
A: My biggest challenge was when I was on crutches for six weeks during my last qualifying for the SEA Games in 2015. I had to juggle between my college, training and the travelling up and down with those crutches.

Q: What do you love about the 400M? 
A: When I run, it’s all in your head, a mental thing. Its a strategic game that makes me think. I love it because it challenges me: when I should overtake, when I should step up my game, when I should push, when I should hold back. The training is hell, but when you are up on the podium, everything goes away, including the moments when you thought you couldn’t keep going, the moments you are bent over vomiting.
Q: Is there someone in athletics you look up to?
A: Sheela Samivellu – she doesn’t care about age or seniority barriers. She’s so approachable and will always come talk to the junior athletes. I really respect that a lot.

Q: Who is your inspiration? 
A: My chinese grandma, my mum, father, sister and coach – they are the 5 pillars in my life and athletics career. I’m privileged to have a sister who is 7 years older than me. I can learn from her mistakes. She is very loving and protective of me. The one thing that she says is “Tanga, as human beings we don’t have time to make mistakes, so Its better for us to watch and learn from other’s mistakes. Life is short, so watch and learn. If you repeat, then you’re a bit stupid lah.”
 Q: What’s next after the Kuala Lumpur 2017 SEA Games?
A: After Form 6 I couldn’t get into local University, so HELP offered me an athletics sports scholarship, in exchange for representing them. I will be training as normal at Bukit Jalil Sports School but focusing on my studies, I’m half way through a 4-year Accounting degree but I think I’ve put tit on hold quite a few times! 😃

Q: What do you think about when you run?
A: I think of all the sacrifices made, especially to be around my family that I love most.. and time that keeps ticking.. it has to be worth the run and I do it for my grandfather who worries and awaits for my presence at home and prays for my success.
My parents have this Tamil saying they repeat to me quite often: The taller the coconut tree grows, it tends to bend. What it means is that wherever you are, always stay down to earth and humble. When you recognise that you still have so much more to achieve, you will have a burning desire to do more.
However, there is also another saying my Coach Suntheran tells me: there’s a difference between an eagle and a crow; choose which you want to be. You’ll never see an eagle hangout out in a field, but you’ll always see a bunch of crows making noise. Carry yourself as an athlete carefully and watchfully, be down to earth (like that coconut tree) but aim to soar high!

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