Azeem overcomes the heat to clinch 200m gold

PETALING JAYA: Young sprinter Mohd Azeem Mohd Fahmi rose above the scorching heat to win the 200m event in the Singapore Open.

The 17-year-old clocked 21.51 seconds to beat Singaporean duo Reuben Rainer Lee and Jonathan Bull, who clocked 21.59 and 23.13 respectively, to finish second and third. It was nowhere near his personal best of 21.04 but Azeem was happy to have won his first international competition of the year.

He also improved on his time of 21.63, which he recorded in his Malaysian Open Championship win on March 6. Azeem, who will turn 18 on April 29, said despite his lack of training and competition due to the SPM examination, he is happy with the momentum he has got at the moment.

“I believe this is a good start. But I know my timing has to be better. I cannot be easily satisfied with what I have done so far,” said the former SMK Gunung Rapat student.

“Fasting and then sprinting, to be honest, is tough. You need to plan your rest during this period. And the weather here is a lot hotter than in Malaysia. I believe it is hot because Singapore is nearby the sea.”

Even though he will compete in the 100m relay during the SEA Games, Azeem said the 200m would give him the confidence to help the team win gold in Hanoi.

“I believe the Singapore Open will be the last competition before the SEA Games. So this win would give me confidence, for sure. I may not run in the 200m, but in the relay, I will surely use this as a benchmark to be even better.

“Actually, my eyes are set on the World Junior Championships in Colombia in August. So whatever I do after this, it will be extra. Now I have time to focus on my athletics fully.”

He will compete in the 100m relay today with Jonathan Nyepa, Mohd Arsyad Saat, Mohd Zulfiqar Ismail and Haiqal Hanafi.

Another Malaysian who won gold in Singapore was K. Prabudass, who aced the 1,500m by clocking a time of 3:54.23. The Philippines’ Afrence Braza clocked 3:59.19 to win silver while Singapore’s Jeevanesh Soundararajah completed the podium with a time of 4:00.99.

In the shot putt event, Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli won bronze with a throw of 16.54m. The Philippines’ Albert John Mantua and William Edward Morrison finished first (17.33m) and second (16.61m) respectively.

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