‘Malaysia’s Usain Bolt’ unafraid to meet ‘Thai Wonderkid’

Muhammad Azeem Fahmi

HANOI: Facing Thailand’s sensational young sprinter, Puripol Boonson, 16, in the 100m event in the SEA Games tomorrow (May 18), will not dampen Muhammad Azeem Fahmi’s spirit to perform his best.

Muhammad Azeem, 18, who is known as ‘Malaysia’s Usain Bolt’, said the presence of Puripol further fuelled his spirit to perform his best at the My Dinh National Stadium here.

“I thought I was the youngest at the SEA Games, but then, he showed up. Honestly, we all know he’s a very talented and young athlete, but that will be a really good challenge for me.

“It didn’t put me in a comfortable position, thus making me to train hard to compete against him.

“He is really fast, but to win this 100m event, anything can happen. In less than 10 seconds (s) we can see all sorts of things happen, so the best man wins,” he said.

Puripol, dubbed the ‘Thai Wonderkid’, became the sensation of the track events this time when he clinched the men’s 200m title by smashing the SEA Games record twice on Saturday.

After breaking his compatriot Reanchai Seeharwong’s 23-year-old record of 20.69s, set in the 1999 Brunei Games, in Heat 1 by clocking 20.41s earlier, Puripol blazed the tracks at the My Dinh National Stadium, by improving further to record 20.37s in the finals.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Azeem, who is participating in the SEA Games for the first time, said that he aimed to advance to the finals and improve on his personal best time of 10.37s, set during the KL All-Comers tournament in March.

He also wants to continue the success, after triumphantly helping the men’s 4x100m quartet defend the silver medal, with a new national record.

“For the 4x100m event, I think I was in a good performance, perhaps, a little bit of improvement at the beginning. I really hope everything goes well, and my fellow Malaysians will pray for my success,” he said.

Yesterday, Muhammad Azeem emerged as the first runner of the 4x100m quartet, together with Muhammad Arsyad Md Saat, Muhammad Zulfiqar Ismail, and defending champion of the men’s 100m event Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi, setting a new national record with 39.09s.

The record smashed the country’s previous record of 39.27s, set by Nixson Kennedy, Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi, Khairul Hafiz Jantan and Russel Alexander Nasir Taib at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.

Another sprinter, who is Malaysia’s bet at the blue riband event tomorrow is Muhammad Arsyad. − BERNAMA

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