Azeem eyes 'magical mark'
Azeem Fahmi sets a national 100m record at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Cali, Colombia, on Monday. PIC COURTESY OF WORLDATHLETICS

SPEED demon Azeem Fahmi is on track to be the first Malaysian to break the 10-second barrier in the 100m.

The 18-year-old from Perak proved his potential by running the race of his life to clock an amazing 10.09s in the blue riband event at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Cali, Colombia, on Monday. 

He won heats eight to qualify for the semi-finals last night.

The 10.09 run has made Azeem the fastest man in Malaysia apart from being the No 1 junior sprinter in Asia.

His time is the joint fourth fastest recorded in Asia this year with South Korea’s Kim Kuk Young who did it at a meet in Japan in June. 

Sri Lankan Yupun Abeykoon (9.96) is the fastest followed by Japan’s Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (9.98). 

Another Japanese, Ryuichiro Sakai (10.02) is third fastest.

Azeem’s run in Cali shattered the national 100m record of 10.18 set by Khairul Hafiz Jantan in the Malaysia Games in Kuching in 2016. 

He improved on his personal best of 10.28 clocked at the Perak Open in Ipoh two months ago.

At the world junior meet, Azeem exploded superbly from the blocks and led at the 40-metre mark. 

Remarkably, his 10.09 was the second fastest time in the eight heats. Letsile Tebogo of Botswana, who has a PB of 9.94, clocked the fastest time of 10 seconds flat in heat three.

Thai wonder kid Puripol Boonson, who won the 100m gold at the Hanoi Sea Games in May, was third fastest in the heats, clocking 10.20.

Azeem screamed and jumped for joy after seeing his sensational time on the display board.

“It feels great to clock 10.09 in the heats and I’m very happy. I believe I am on track to go below 10 seconds.

“I feel really good that I clocked a better time than Puripol in the heats,” he said 

“The simulation races I did at Bukit Jalil really helped me to make a good start from the blocks.

“My mission in Cali is to improve on my PB, and also to be the first Malaysian to qualify for the final in the World Juniors Championships,” Azeem added.

Coach Amir Izwan said Azeem is capable of running much faster in the semi-finals.

“He is in the right frame of mind to even clock 10 seconds flat in the semi-finals,” said Amir.

There was more good news as shot putter Jonah Chang Anak Rigan became the first Malaysian to qualify for the final at the world junior meet while hurdler Elvin Yap qualified for the semi-finals.

Jonah hurled the iron ball a distance of 18.97m to finish fifth in the second qualifier. 

He was the fifth best overall shot putter among the 12 who qualified for the final.

Jonah, who trained in Germany, has a PB of 19.41m. 

He said he was happy to be the first Malaysian to reach the final, but he needs to throw better than his PB for a podium finish.

Elvin clocked a PB of 13.91s in the 110m hurdles to finish fourth in heat seven to enter the next round. His previous best was 14.02 recorded at the Johor Baru Open in May.

Source : New Straits Times

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