Sprinter Khairul drops Sukma bombshell on Melaka

KUALA LUMPUR: National sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan (pic) has dropped a bombshell by turning his back on the Malaysia Games (Sukma) from Sept 11-22 in Perak – and that could put him in trouble with his state Melaka.

The 20-year-old Khairul, who was supposed to be the biggest star of the Sukma, will not defend his double sprint gold medals.

He made a smashing debut at the Sarawak Sukma in 2016 when he blazed the athletics scene by winning four gold medals. He also broke the 100m national record and three Sukma records in the 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m.

Khairul clocked a personal best time of 10.18 in the blue riband event to break the national record of 10.30 by Watson Nyambek set in the 1998 pre-Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

For his sterling show, Khairul was duly named the best male athlete at the Sarawak Sukma.

And the youngster, based at the Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) in Bandar Penawar, Johor, did not stop there as he became a national hero when he emerged as the youngest male sprinter to win the SEA Games 100m gold with a time of 10.34 in Kuala Lumpur last year.

Melaka State Sports Council (MSSC) have entered him for four events – the 100m, 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m – at the Perak Sukma but Khairul, who returned from the Indonesia Asian Games last week, said he wanted to take a break from competitions.

“I’ve competed in many competitions this year and I need to spend time with my family,” said Khairul yesterday.

His last-minute decision sparked speculation that he was either having personal problems with the MSSC or he was afraid that he would not be able to defend his sprint double after clocking unimpressive times in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April and the recent Asiad.

When Khairul was asked whether he had a bone of contention with MSSC, he merely answered: “Why don’t you ask them?”

MSSC are apparently annoyed with Khairul’s decision and was seen as ungrateful.

An official from the MSSC, who preferred to speak in anonymity, said: “We’ve taken care of Khairul well by giving him all that he needed and now, he does not want to represent his state in Sukma.”

At the last Games in Sarawak, Melaka finished 10th with a total of 18 gold medals, 11 silvers and 28 bronzes.