KUALA LUMPUR: Muhd Aiedel Saadon has a lot in common with his idol – national sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan.
The are both teenagers from Melaka, run in the blue riband event, train under the same coach – Mohd Poad Mohd Kassim – and at the same venue – the Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) in Johor.
Khairul, who will turn 19 on July 22, has made a name for himself on the national scene and the 17-year-old Aiedel is hoping to do the same, beginning with the IAAF World Under-18 Athletics Championships, which begins in Nairobi, Kenya, today.
“Khairul’s performance in the (recent) Asian meet was outstanding. He proved that he can outrun any of the top sprinters from Asia,” said Aiedel, a Form Five student of SSTMI.
Aiedel was referring to Khairul’s outing at the Asian Athletics Championships in India, where he clocked the fastest time of 10.24 in the men’s 100m semi-finals.
Unfortunately Khairul, who has a personal best of 10.18, was disqualified for the final for a fault start.
“The time Khairul set in the semi-finals (10.24) was even better than that clocked by the Iranian runner (Hassan Taftian) – 10.25 – to win the final.
“Khairul’s performance in the Asian meet has inspired me to give my best and clock a personal best and qualify for the 100m final in Nairobi,” said Aiedel, who set a personal best of 10.53 in the National Schools Sports Council (MSSM) Championships in Penang in April.
Aiedel had also done well in the second Asian Youth Championships in Bangkok in May, when he clocked 10.80 to win silver in the 100m.
Besides Aiedel, four other Malaysians will also compete in the five-day meet in Nairobi. They are Muhd Nazri Mustafa (long jump, triple jump); Muhd Ilham Suhaimi (400m); Samuel Ling Jeng Yi (shot putt); and Grace Wong Xiu Mei (hammer).
Nazri, of Kedah is also expected to shine in Nairobi after defying the odds to win gold in the Asian Youth meet in Bangkok by achieving a personal best of 15.05m in triple jump.
Another athlete to look out for is hammer thrower Grace. The 2015 Singapore SEA Games bronze medallist also did well in the Asian meet in India by finishing eighth in the final with a 57.18m effort.
Grace has a personal best of 60.99m.