Khairul Hafiz fails to make SEA Games cut

Khairul Hafiz clocked 10.71s which is much slower than the qualifying time of 10.37s. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The 2017 SEA Games sprint king, Khairul Hafiz Jantan failed to meet this year’s SEA Games qualifying time of 10.37s at the Malaysian Athletics Championship (MAF) today.

At the final qualifying championship at the National Sports Council Mini Stadium, the 21-year-old athlete from Melaka, could only record 10.71s to end the race in second place in the final, much slower compared to the 10.59s he recorded in the semifinal round this morning.

The time was also a far cry from his national record of 10.18s set at the 2016 Sarawak Malaysian Games.

Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi of Johor won gold (10.59s) while the bronze went to Muhammad Zulfiqar Ismail of Terengganu (10.81s).

Commenting on his time, Khairul Hafiz said he was aware that his current performance was disappointing as he had only returned to athletics six weeks ago after being out for seven months due to an injury.

“I will not feel good about representing the country if my performance does not improve. I know the physical difference when I ran after recovering from an injury as compared to the time when I achieved 10.18s.

‘’I am thankful at the times I clocked in three championships to date. I don’t want to be pressured by what people say, because only the coach and I know the difficulties I have gone through.

‘’I am still young, there are many more SEA Games which I can participate in. After this, I will wait for what my coach (Mohd Poad Md Kassim) has in mind (for me),’’ he told reporters after the event.

At the last SEA Games, Khairul Hafiz won gold with a time of 10.38s at the National Stadium, beating defending champion, Eric Shauwn Cray of the Philippines and Kritsada Namsuwan of Thailand who both recorded 10.43s.

Meanwhile, the national athletics squad’s chief coach, Mohd Manshahar Abd Jalil said that Khairul Hafiz’s chance, and those of other athletes, to Manila, were not closed yet, whereby the decisions would most probably be made at the final MAF selection meeting on Sunday.

To date, he said that 15 athletes had qualified in Category A, while athletes nearing the qualification conditions would be considered in category B.

‘’Currently, Jonathan Nyepa has passed the qualifying conditions, namely, the top three positions in South East Asia. Khairul has just recovered from an injury, maybe in a month or more, he can dip below 10.50s.

‘’We do not want to leave the defending champion behind, we will make plans to help him. I am confident and believe, if we plan well, he can return to his best state,’’ he said.

The women’s 100m event also saw no national athlete passing the qualifying mark when Siti Fatimah Mohammad, representing ATM, won gold by recording 12.28s, compared to the qualifying time of 11.58s.

Her teammate, S Komalam Shally (12.41s) and Azreen Nabila Alias (12.55s) of Terengganu took home a silver and a bronze.