Perak 4x100m anchor Azeem can’t catch up with Terengganu quartet

Double duty: Terengganu’s Ruslem Zikry Putra Roseli won the men’s 400m hurdles final. Later, he also ran for the team to win the 4x100m gold. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

MOHD Azeem Fahmi ran a superb anchor leg for Perak but the power-packed Terengganu quartet proved just too good for the sprint sensation in the men’s 4x100m relay at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Azeem, who was eyeing three golds at the Games, had a monumental task as he was placed fifth at the final exchange with Amir Aiman Kamaruddin but managed to make ground and moved to second with a brilliant last 50-metre dash but it wasn’t enough to deny Terengganu.

Terengganu’s quartet were led by two national sprinters Mohd Zulfiqar Ismail and Abdul Wafiy Roslan who were ably supported by Ruslem Zikry Puttra Roseli and Hasrul Najmi Badrul to clock 40.59s to win gold.

Perak’s quartet of Azeem, Aiman, N. Kanishkann and A. Loganes settled for silver with 40.95s while Selangor’s V. Haarish, Nabil Alwani Rizal Alwani, Mohd Haziq Mohd and Mohd Thaqif Mohd won bronze with 40.97s. Azeem took the defeat in his stride and admitted that he knew from the start it would be a huge task to topple Terengganu.

“Despite not being able to win gold today (yesterday), I’m very satisfied that I managed to secure a medal despite lagging far behind. As an anchor that is what is expected of me and I’m happy I did it,” said Azeem.

“Terengganu are a very solid team and I knew it was going to really difficult to beat them. However, I did the best I could as an anchor but in the end, Terengganu were too far ahead for me to catch up.

“My teammates worked very hard to achieve this result but we have to admit Terengganu proved too strong.

“I still have the 200m tomorrow (today) where I will bounce back and go for gold.”

Realising the threat from Azeem, Terengganu’s anchor Wafiy pushed himself to the maximum and suffered a hamstring pull as he crossed the finish line.

It was also a day to savour for Ruslem as he had earlier won Terengganu’s first athletics gold in the men’s 400m hurdles after clocking 52.21s.

Ammar Aiman Nor Azmi of Johor secured silver with 52.70s while Fakhrul Afizul Nasir Kelantan was third (53.00s).

“This is my best time in two years although my personal best was 51.91s (set at the Indian Open 2019). My target next is to qualify for the SEA Games in Cambodia,” said Ruslem.

“I competed at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines but unable to win a medal but next year, I want to achieve it. Gold will be a pleasant surprise.

“The national record is the other target in my mind and I need to keep working hard to achieve that.”

The national record is held by Shahadan Jalanuddin who clocked 51.28s en route his SEA Games gold in Manila in 2005.

Meanwhile, Mohd Ikbolasen Kamal Hussain of Pahang completed his hattrick at Sukma when he clinched the men’s 5,000m gold with 14:52.05s after having already bagged the 10,000m and 3,000m steeplechase golds earlier.

The Cameron Highlands-born Ikbolasen thus will finish as the first athlete of the Games to win three golds so far.

Meanwhile, SEA Games champion Andre Anura Anuar of Sabah also ended his Sukma campaign in style when he captured his pet event, the triple jump, without much fuss.

Andre registered 16.43m for gold, which was far from the national record of 16.77m held by Mohd Hakimi Ismail.

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