Grace and Khairul hold their nerves in late bid to reach SEA Games

Struggling: Khairul Hafiz Jantan needs to clock 10.43 to qualify for the SEA Games.

KUALA LUMPUR: Hammer thrower Grace Wong Xiu Mei and sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan have yet to qualify for the Philippines SEA Games from Nov 30-Dec 11 but the defending champions are not pressing the panic button – just yet.

Grace has chances to beat the qualifying mark at the Kuala Lumpur Open starting today at the National Sports Council (NSC) training track in Bukit Jalil and the South Korean Open in Mokpo from Aug 16-18.

The Sarawakian, who broke the SEA Games record of 59.24m in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, has yet to compete in a senior competition this year but she is not under any pressure.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed to qualify for my third SEA Games. My goal is to retain my title in the Philippines,” said Grace, who was only 15 when she bagged bronze at the Singapore Games in 2015.

Currently, the 19-year-old holds the national record of 60.99m but she needs to surpass the silver-medal mark of 56.15m to make the trip to Manila.

“I’m looking forward to the Korean Open as I broke my national record there last year,” added Grace, who is training in Kuching under coach Thomas Ling.

Khairul, who won the men’s 100m gold at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 2017 by clocking 10.38, will compete in the Malaysian Open from Aug 16-18 at the National Sports Council (NSC) training track in Bukit Jalil to make the cut.

He has to clock 10.43 to qualify for the SEA Games but based on his current form, it looks daunting.

Khairul only posted a poor time of 10.70 in the heats and failed to reach the semi-finals of the World University Games in Naples, Italy, last month.

Khairul, who’s from Melaka, remains cool although he has only one chance left to qualify.

“There is pressure on me as I’ve just one competition left to win a place for the Philippines Games but I believe I can beat the qualifying mark in the Malaysian Open,” said Khairul.
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