PETALING JAYA: Teen sprint sensation Muhammad Azeem Fahmi yesterday ran the fastest 100m in history by a Malaysian athlete in a blistering 10.09s.
The 18-year-old’s breathtaking win in the last heat of the 100m at the world athletics under-20 championships in Cali, Colombia, cracked the national record of 10.18 set by Khairul Hafiz Jantan in 2016.
Azeem’s sprint to glory was even more stunning as it was an improvement on his previous personal best of 10.28 recorded at the Perak Open in June.
He showed no sign of jet lag after travelling about 48 hours to Cali and made no mistake when taking his first step in the global arena as the fourth fastest youth in Asia in 100m and 200m.
Azeem was in lane four, looking serious at the start. The favourite, Japan’s Hiroki Yanagita, 19, who went into the meet as the fastest junior in Asia with a time of 10.16, looked impassive in lane five.
Azeem had an electrifying start and powered through with ease to the astonishment of everyone. The rest were nowhere.
Yanagita, who was a member of the Japanese 4x100m relay team at the recent world athletics championships in Oregon, finished second in 10.24.
Azeem goes into the semi-finals tomorrow as the second best among the 60 sprinters in eight heats, the fastest being Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo who posted 10.0, while Hanoi Sea Games 100m gold medallist Puripol Boonson, 16, of Thailand, was third quickest in 10.20.
If Azeem makes the final, he will be back at the starting blocks about three hours after the semi-finals. The following day, he has the heats of the 200m in which he has a personal best of 20.89.
Youth and sports minister Ahmad Faizal Azumu said: “Azeem breaking the national 100m record is already a gold medal for the country.
“It is a huge achievement by a young man who has delivered a wonderful sporting gift to Malaysia and made our nation proud and ecstatic.”
Faizal hoped Azeem will be under no pressure in his pursuit of glory in the sprints. “Let’s just cherish the Azeem moment in Cali.”
He said there was great potential for Azeem to go below 10 seconds in the 100m and that he would “definitely” be sent to the US next year to further his education and athletics ambitions.
The youth and sports ministry and Azeem’s parents are looking at either the University of Oregon (div 1) or Minnesota State University (div 2), Faizal said.
Despite having to juggle sports and studies, Azeem, a former student of SMK Gunung Rapat in Ipoh, scored 6As out of nine subjects in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.