Haiqal needs just four meets to get primed for gold again

KUALA LUMPUR: National sprint ace Mohd Haiqal Hanafi (pic) hopes to pack in at least four international competitions before he flies the national flag at the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, in May.

Haiqal believes this will be sufficient for him to find his rhythm in a bid to retain the men’s 100m gold medal he won at the 2019 edition in Manila, the Philippines.

“I think three or four competitions are enough in the run-up to Vietnam. It all depends on the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF).

“If they feel there are suitable competitions, I’m ready to race,” he said.

On the local grid, the 22-year-old said he will make an appearance at the Kuala Lumpur Open next month, followed by a competition in Perak in February.

He is leaving it to his coach Mohd Poad Md Kassim to decide on the number of local competitions to fine-tune him for the Hanoi Games.

Asked about the time he wants to set in Vietnam, Haiqal admitted he has not set any specific target but only wanted a good burst off the blocks to win the blue-ribbon event for the second time in a row.

The Negri Sembilan-born Haiqal is determined to bounce back stronger in 2022 after being hit by several sad episodes this year, including missing two competitions, the Malaysian Grand Prix (Championship following an ankle injury last April and the Qosanov Memorial Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan, last June due to a positive Covid-19 test.

Regarding his performance in 2021, Haiqal remained satisfied despite finishing fifth in his only outing this year at the National Athletics Championship recently.

He said an attack of nerves denied him a place on the podium, as the last time he competed in a closed meet here was at the end of 2020.

Haiqal also said he is comfortable training at SMK Gunung Rapat in Perak in the company of 2017 SEA Games champion Khairul Hafiz Jantan. – Bernama

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