Hafizuddin’s switch pays off with sprint title

Kedah's Muhammad Hafizuddin Aziz (left) pipped the rest of the field to win the 100m final of the MSSM Track and Field Championships in Alor Setar on Sunday.

ALOR SETAR: In the space of four months, Kedah’s Muhammad Hafizuddin Aziz has transformed himself to be the fastest schoolboy in Malaysia.

For years, the 17-year-old SMK Tunku Abdul Malik Alor Setar student refused invitations from teachers and coaches to run for Kedah in national-level competitions.

His reason – he loves football more than anything and is playing as a right back for the Kota Star district team.

Hafizuddin’s decision to finally run in the 56th National Schools Sports Council (MSSM) Track and Field Championships before quitting the school scene proved decisive as he stormed to victory in the boys’ Under-18 100m final on Sunday.

The Kedah lad, who only started training on the tracks in January, took an unlikely victory in front of his home crowd at the Darulaman Stadium in his MSSM debut, crossing the finish line in 11.04.

He narrowly pushed favourite Asnawi Hashim of Malacca (11.07) down to second spot, with Sabah’s Tonga Jody Edmund finishing just 0.02 adrift to take the bronze in a tight finish.

“I have competed in school and district athletics events before, but only decided to represent Kedah in the MSSM at the start of this year,” said Hafizuddin.

“I have always wanted to play football for Kedah, but will now have to rethink my ambition after winning the MSSM gold medal. This is a fantastic win for me, especially in front of my family and friends. I will now focus on delivering a double for Kedah in the 200m tomorrow (today).”

Hafizuddin, who has a personal best time of 10.98, was slow off the blocks but made up ground on leader Asnawi midway through the race.

After trailing for 98m of the race, Hafizuddin pipped the Malacca sprinter right at the death to take the gold.

Noor Eewan Syafiqah won the girls’ Under-18 century sprint in 12.22, finishing comfortably ahead of Sarawak’s Norris Foo (12.47) and her Perak team-mate Kang Woan Yi (12.48).

“The race was not as easy as it looked because I was physically tired from running an extra race in the heats last night (Saturday night),” said the 17-year-old SMK Gunung Rapat student Noor Eewan.

“Luckily, I was mentally prepared during the race and managed to secure my first 100m MSSM gold medal.”

The 100m runners were forced to rerun the heats on Saturday night after a faulty electronics starters system had led to numerous false starts during the initial heats in the afternoon session.

There were also first-time winners in the Under-15 100m races, with Selangor’s Willy Gew (11.19) and Terengganu’s Azreen Nabila Alias (12.53) taking the gold in the boys’ and girls’ races respectively.

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