PETALING JAYA: Former sprint champion Khairul Hafiz Jantan is more fired up to beat the SEA Games qualifying mark at the Qosanov Memorial in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 19 after being reunited with his coach.
Khairul has to run faster than the qualifying mark of 21.22s in the 200m to make the cut for the SEA Games in Hanoi in November.
He is currently training with Mohd Poad Md Kassim at the Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School in Johor after spending more than a year in Bukit Jalil under American Dwayne Miller.
The 22-year-old Khairul said his coach has made clear of his targets in Almaty.
“My coach believes that I have done well in training and has tasked me to qualify for the SEA Games and make an impact in Hanoi,” said Khairul, whose personal best for 200m is 20.90, which he posted at the 2017 Malaysian Open.
Khairul gained prominence when he set a new national record in the 100m with a time of 10.18 at the 2016 Malaysian Games (Sukma) in Kuching.
He then went on to win the blue ribband event in the 2017 SEA Games with 10.38, beating then favourite Eric Cray from the Philippines.
At the 2019 Philippines SEA Games though, Khairul only featured in the 4x100m, and together with Mohd Haiqal Hanafi, Nixson Kennedy and Russel Nasir Taib, they won a silver.
This time, he is focusing only on the 200m.
“It will be a bonus if I can also qualify for the Olympics in 200m in Almaty but it will be tough as I had not competed in any international races since the Philippines SEA Games,” said Khairul.
The Olympics qualifying mark for 200m is 20.24 seconds.
He competed in the 400m at the Malaysian Athletics Grand Prix in April but finished a disappointing eighth in 54.71, which was way off his personal best of 47.70.
“I decided to take part in the 400m to test my endurance. I learnt a lot from the race and was able to fix my weaknesses while I was training with coach Poad in Johor,” he said.
“I feel good at the moment, and I believe I can make an impact in Kazakhstan.”