PETALING JAYA: Sprinters from Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) stole the limelight this year.
Khairul Hafiz Jantan emerged as the new star for the country when he won the 100m gold medal at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August.
Four other student from the school in Bukit Penawar, Johor – Badrul Hisyam Abdul Manap, Azam Masri, Asnawi Hashim and Haiqal Hanafi – also produced top performances in the sprints.
SSTMI principal Suhaimi Sun Abdullah is feeling optimistic for the new year.
His students will be gearing up for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April and the Asian Games in Jakarta in August while their juniors will be competing in the Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Ipoh (August).
“The good showing by our runners have further raised the profile of the school as one of the feeder of talents for the nation. It is one of our best year in sports to date,” said Suhaimi.
“Khairul showed he was a fighter and that raised the spirit of our students. He proved that nothing is impossible,” he said.
A year before the KL Games, Khairul smashed the national 100m record at the Sukma in Kuching when he recorded 10.18 to erase Watson Nyambek’s 10.30 record.
And at the Games, he ended Malaysia’s 14-year wait for a gold medal.
He also broke the 49-year-old 200m national record during the Malaysia Open Athletics Championship in July.
He rewrote the record with 20.90, 0.02 faster than Tan Sri Dr. M. Jegathesan’s time set at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
“Our sprint coach Poad Kassim has made all the difference. Our athletes have broken the barriers because of their strong discipline plus the overwhelming support from all parties in the school, the community and their families,” added Suhaimi.
“We’ll keep on preparing these sprinters to attain more success at higher level tournaments. We are also grooming the female sprinters to step up next year.
“Former international Mohd Jironi Riduan is helping out with our middle distance runners and a coach from China is in charge of throwing events.
“We want to add depth to our athletics programme.”
Suhaimi said he would not be surprised to see more new stars from the school making a name for themselves at Sukma.
“Many of these students will return to their states for Sukma. I’m confident they will be among the finalists in many events,” he said.
Although athletics has garnered the most publicity, Suhaimi said there were also good progress in other sports.
SSTMI, set up by the Education Ministry 18 years ago, is a six-time Junior Hockey League Division One champion. The school also won the Malay College Kuala Kangsar 7s Rugby Championship three times.
National cyclists Fatehah Mustapa and Jupha Somnet, archer Haziq Kamaruddin, hockey player Faizal Saari and swimmers Daniel Bego, Henry Bego and footballers K. Kunalan are among the school’s alumni.