KUALA LUMPUR: Russel Nasir Taib has emerged as a new threat for national sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan in the men’s 200m after winning a tournament in Australia named after his mother.
The 21-year-old Malaysian-born sprinter blazed the tracks in Queensland on Saturday by clocking a time of 21.01 at the Denise Boyd Shield Athletics Championships.
The tournament is named after his Aussie mother Denise Boyd, who was the 200m gold medallist in the 1978 Edmonton Commonwealth Games.
She was also the finalist in two Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976 and Moscow in 1980.
Russel, who migrated with his family to Australia at the age of three, was even more impressive last week when he clocked a personal best of 20.94 in the Norma Croker Shield in Brisbane to qualify for the Philippines SEA Games in December.
He surpassed the qualifying mark of 21.22 set by Thailand’s Jirapong Meenapra at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 2017.
He also came just within a whisker from breaking Khairul's national record of 20.90, which the latter set in the Malaysian Open at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil in 2017.
Russel’s time of 20.94 in Brisbane is the third fastest clocked by a Malaysian sprinter.
Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan clocked 20.92 at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games before his record was shattered by Khairul after 49 years at the Malaysian Open in 2017.
Russel has made remarkable progress since he posted 21.30 en route to winning a bronze at the Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Perak last September.
Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) president Datuk Karim Ibrahim was delighted with Russel's excellent performance.
“Russel is young and he has a bright future to be the next top men’s sprinter in 200m in Malaysia. He will be a threat to Khairul,” said Karim.
“I believe that it’s just matter of time before he breaks the national 200m record held by Khairul. And there is more good news for Russel as he has qualified for two more competitions based on his time of 20.94,” added Karim.
He will feature in his first Asian Championships in Doha, Qatar, from April 19-24 and has also qualified for the World University Games in Napoli, Italy, from July 3-14.
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