HANGZHOU: National sprinting sensation Mohd Azeem Fahmi qualified for the semi-final of the Asian Games 100m race at the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium on Friday (Sept 29).
The 19-year-old Auburn University athlete finished first in Heat Three with a time of 10.27s.
In his 100m heat three, Mohd Azeem Fahmi faced Iranian Hassan Taftian, who has been playing head games with him since the Asian Championships.
In the Asian Championships, Taftian won bronze with a time of 10.23s, while Azeem finished fifth with a time of 10.25s.
And a month later, in the World Championships semi-finals, Taftian, 30, recorded a faster time of 10.17s, while Azeem clocked 10.26s.
Both duelled again in the Asian Games, and Azeem had the last laugh.
He finished his heat first with a time of 10.27s, while Taftian finished second with a time of 10.42s.
When asked about the victory over him, Azeem confidently said it was just a warning to him.
“He has been playing psychological games with me since the World Championships. I am here to prove to him that he is old enough. He has to retire,” chirped Azeem.
As for his outing in the heats, Azeem was glad that he got to the next stage and now hopes to do well in the semi-final, finishing at least in the top two in his round.
“The target is to get to the final, and we got it. I will be in a good heat, so that is an advantage for me to qualify for the final easily. I am happy to have notched this because this is my first time running at night after six years.
“And this is my eighth time this year recording below 10.3s, so I would say it is a good range, and I want to do better tomorrow in the semi-final.”
When asked if it is better to sprint at night, Azeem admitted that he didn’t fancy it.
“I do not like running at night, but the host has decided, so we abide by it. For me, if you sprint at night, it feels like you have less oxygen compared to morning. I am used to sprinting in the sunshine, so it feels a little off, but I will get used to it.
“I just want to get to the final and enjoy the race. I do not care who I am going to face. I just want to execute my plan, do my best and be part of the Asian Games spectacle.”
Another Malaysian, Khairul Hafiz Jantan, also qualified for the semi-final after finishing fourth with a time of 10.48s in heat five.