Sneak preview from smashing 4x100m quartet ahead of SEA Games 

Kharul Hafiz (third left) leads Malaysia to another record-breaking run in the 4x100m relay. ― Malay Mail pic

By R. Loheswar

KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 — Malaysia’s athletes continue to peak as the nation edges closer to the SEA Games. This time, the Malaysian 4x100m quartet broke the national record with a time of 39.62s set at the Vietnam Open Championships on Thursday night.

The men’s relay quartet of Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi, Jonathan Nyepa, Badrul Hisyam Abdul Manap and Khairul Hafiz Jantan erased the old record of 39.67s set by Izzudin Yahaya, Jonathan Nyepa, Nixson Kennedy and Harith Amar Sobri on June 12, 2015, during the Singapore SEA Games.

The signs of a record-breaking run were imminent when the same foursome in Vietnam clocked 39.98s at the Asian Track and Field (ATF) championships in India from July 6-9.

After that stint, they trained on for this competition and the effort paid dividends with a new national record.

Using their record run as a sneak preview, the KL crowds could be in for a magnificent race come the SEA Games since at this point, we have the third best times in the SEA region — behind Indonesia’s 39.13s set in April and Thailand’s 39.38 at the ATF.

Athletics coach Poad Kassim, the man responsible for the team’s success, was upbeat of more to come.

“It’s true these boys can do better,” said Poad. “There were some technical issues we addressed when we came back from India and that hard work has paid off here.

“We will continue to work closely with the National Sports Institute (NSI) who are analyzing everything and providing us with feedback.”

Add to that good news, the fact all four boys are still young. Haikal is 18, Khairul 19, Badrul 20 and Jonathan 21. This new timing will certainly boost their confidence but we must be wary of the Indonesian and Thai threats.

“From what I’ve heard and seen, these two nations have a quartet that’s harmonious,” explained Poad.

“They possess high team spirit born from being close and racing with one another over a long period of time.

“This is our boys’ second international race together. However I’m confident come the SEA Games, our athletes can perform better.

“Keeping everyone injury free is our biggest concern,” added the 47-year-old coach.

For sprintking Khairul, this is the second national record in which he had a hand in breaking after crossing the finish line in 20.90s in the 200m at the Malaysian Open. He broke the long standing record held by Dr Mani Jegathesan by 0.02s (Jega clocked 20.92s at the 1968 Mexico Olympics).

It has also been a productive year women’s 4x100m relay quartet who havae broken the national record twice this year.

Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli, Siti Fatimah Mohamed, S.Komalan Shally, and Shereen Samson Vallabouy broke the national record of 45.32s by clocking 45.19s in the Thailand Open in Bangkok.

It only last two weeks as Zaidatul, Siti fatimah, Komalam and Nurul Faizah Asma Mazlan, who replaced the injured Shereen, clocked 45.18s at the Asin Track and Field Championships in Bhubaneswar, India.

Zaidatul had earlier set a new 100m record of 11.45s in South Africa.

High jumper Nauraj Singh has been continuing his meteoric rise and his latest national record of 2.30m set in Singapore Open in April makes not only clear favourite in the SEA Games but a truly world class competitor.

Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian also did well to set a new national record of 13.67s in Germany in May but will have to be at his best to overcome Thai rival Jamras Rittidet next month.

Hammer thrower Jackie Wong has also been on fire after having broken his own national mark twice in Korea last month and his latest mark of 65.34m will make the man to beat in the regional Games.

Grace Wong is another athlete to watch out for as the she set a new hammer throw record of 60.99m also in South Korea and this makes it a distinct possibility of Malaysia clinching a “hammer” double.

Malaysia’s prospects are looking good for the KL Games where the hosts are expected to genuinely challenge Thailand’s supremacy in athletics.

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