Lee Hup Wei became the first Malaysian ever to qualify for a World Athletics Championships final when he set a personal best of 2.29 metres in the men’s high jump qualification in Doha on Tuesday.
Making his World Championships debut at the age of 32 as a wildcard, Hup Wei’s historic achievement will see him take a place in Friday’s 12-man field alongside the likes of defending champion Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Brandon Starc of Australia and Canada’s former world junior champion Michael Mason.
Hup Wei, ranked 22nd in the world, made a blistering start at the Khalifa International Stadium as he cleared 2.17m, 2.22 and 2.26 at the first attempt before going over 2.29m on his third effort to improve on his previous best by one centimetre.
The 2007 Asian champion was one of 10 high jumpers to clear 2.29m, meaning that they were no longer required to jump the automatic qualification height of 2.31m with the final field rounded off by the two best jumpers who did not clear 2.29.
Hup Wei also is the only Southeast Asian athlete to reach a final after pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines and 100m sprinter Lalu Muhammad Zohri of Indonesia both performed below their best to exit in qualifying.