Coach Poad throws down the gauntlet to Khairul and Haiqal

KUALA LUMPUR: Sprint coach Mohd Poad Md Kassim has challenged his star athletes Khairul Hafiz Jantan (pic) and Mohd Haiqal Hanafi (inset) to clock their season’s best times at next month’s Qosanov Memorial Athletics Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The coach, who is clearly pleased with the commitment and determination shown by the duo since they recently returned to train under him, said such an achievement at the meet in Almaty on June 19-20 would only brighten their chances of qualifying for the SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, from Nov 21-Dec 2.

In Almaty, Khairul, who is also the national 100m record holder with 10.18s, is expected to compete in the 200m event while Haiqal is set to take part in the blue-riband event.

Poad admitted that his two sprint kings still had some weaknesses to iron out, especially in terms of their running and sprinting techniques, despite their encouraging performances in training at the Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School in Johor since last month.

“They are working hard in training to raise their performance level. I expect to see an improvement from both the sprinters in the next two weeks, ” he said.

Last month, Khairul, 22, and Haiqal, 21, decided to return to train under Poad after spending eight months under the tutelage of Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) technical director Dwayne Miller since last August.

American Miller has over 30 years of experience in coaching sprinters and jumpers, and even helped US sprinter LaShawn Merritt bag two gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 400m and 4x400m (Olympic record) events.

Poad is no stranger to the local athletics scene too, having been the man behind Malaysia’s back-to-back success in the blue-riband event at the SEA Games, with Khairul triumphing in Kuala Lumpur in 2017 and Haiqal in the Philippines in 2019.

The 52-year-old coach is also grooming another one of his proteges, Mohd Arsyad Md Saat to be included in the men’s 4x100m relay squad for the biennial Games.

The 18-year-old Arsyad clocked 10.64s to win the 100m gold for Johor at last month’s Malaysia Grand Prix Championship. — Bernama

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