B y Aftar Singh
KUALA LUMPUR: The oldest record in Malaysian athletics – the men’s 200m – is finally broken after 49 years.
Yesterday, Melaka sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan ran the race of his life to clock 20.90 seconds at the Malaysian Open to break Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan’s 20.92 mark set in the semi-finals of the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
Khairul, who will turn 19 on Saturday, also erased the meet record of 20.94 set by Kento Terada of Japan in Kangar in 1996.
It was a 1-2-3 finish for Malaysia as Jonathan Nyepa of Sarawak clocked 21.29 to bag the silver while G. Aravinn Thevarr of Perak clinched the bronze in 21.31.
Khairul is only the third Malaysian to dip below 21 seconds. Besides Jegathesan, the other was Azmi Ibrahim who clocked 20.98 at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 2001.
Khairul, whose previous best was 21.01, shed tears of joy when he crossed the finish line.
Khairul, who clocked 21.08 earlier in the heats, said that he never expected to break the record.
“I was a bit nervous at the starting blocks after being disqualified for a false start in the 100m final at the Asian Championships (in India last month).
“But I stayed focused. I had a very good start and I ran as fast as I could. I jumped for joy when I saw on the electronic board that I had clocked 20.90,” said Khairul, who is doing his pre-university studies at the Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) in Johor.
“I must thank God. I’ve been praying daily to Him to give me the strength and confidence in competitions. I wouldn’t have broken the national record if not for my prayers.
“This was the first time I ran at the National Stadium and it turned out to be memorable outing for me.
“I’m really delighted that I now hold both the national 100m and 200m records. I will continue to train hard for next month’s SEA Games.
“And I hope that the National Stadium will be a good hunting ground for me,” added Khairul, who set the national 100m record of 10.18 in the Sukma in Kuching last year.
Coach Mohd Poad Mohd Kassim praised Khairul for his excellent performance.
“Khairul is in the right frame of mind for the SEA Games. I believe he can clock faster times at the Games,” said Poad.
Dr Jegathesan described Khairul’s feat as “fantastic”.
“He is young and talented and has a bright future ahead of him,” said Dr Jegathesan in a telephone interview from the Bahamas, where he is attending the Commonwealth Youth Games.
“I’m so proud of him and so is the whole country.”