Clash of the Flashes

  • Athletics
  • Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Malaysia's Sprinter Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi in action for 100m mens final during Sea Games 2019 at Athlectics Stadium in New Clark City. FAIHAN GHANI/The Star.

KUALA LUMPUR: The 100m event at the next Sukma in Johor will indeed be a blue-riband event to savour. That’s when SEA Games gold medallist Mohd Haiqal Hanafi will come up against the boy wonder who is tipped to take over his mantle – Mohd Azeem Mohd Fahmi.

Azeem, who just turned 16, has been dubbed the Usain Bolt of Malaysia and has a personal best of 10.57 in the 100m.

Haiqal, who is 21, clocked his personal best of 10.35 to be declared the fastest man in South-East Asia in the Philippines last December.

Azeem’s coach Mohd Amir Izwan Tan Abdullah was looking forward to the showdown.

He said that Azeem had shown tremendous progress in competitions over the last three years.

“He is a talented and dedicated athlete and hungry for success. He has such a good start off the blocks and also the speed to beat the SEA Games mark by next year.

“I’m confident he will be able to surpass the SEA Games qualifying mark of 10.45 by August next year,” said Amir, a school teacher at SMK Gunung Rapat.

Azeem has already qualified for the World Junior Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, which had been scheduled for July but has since been postponed. The qualifying mark was 10.58.

“I’m not sure whether there will be any competitions for Azeem this year but his main focus will be the Sukma (Malaysia Games) in March in Johor next year,” said Amir.

Azeem, a Form Four student of SMK Gunung Rapat in Ipoh, also wants to create history by becoming the youngest Malaysian to feature in the SEA Games sprints in Hanoi next year.

The youngest Malaysian to compete in the men’s blue-riband event in the Games was Khairul Hafiz Jantan from Melaka, who was 20 when he won the gold at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur Games, clocking 10.38.

“It will be a dream come true to compete in the SEA Games at age 17. I believe I will be the youngest sprinter from Malaysia to feature in the Games.

“Coach Mohd Amir helped me to do a personal best of 10.57 to win gold in the Innotex Open in Bukit Jalil last December. I am confident that with his guidance, I can dip below 10.50,” said Azeem.

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