ALL AGOG OVER MONDO

Bukit Jalil new track turns up heat on sprint bat­tles

New Straits Times - - Sport -

THE brand new Mondo track at the Na­tional Sta­dium in Bukit Jalil, sim­i­lar to the one used at the Olympics in London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro is rais­ing the ex­cite­ment level for the sprint bat­tles in the Sea Games.

The blue run­ning track, just like in Rio, has proven lucky for na­tional run­ner Khairul Hafiz Jan­tan who took the 200m by storm in 20.90s dur­ing the Malaysian Open, smash­ing the nearly half-cen­tury old na­tional record of 20.92s set by Tan Sri Dr M. Je­gath­e­san in the 1968 Mex­ico Olympics.

In the pre­vi­ous Sin­ga­pore Games, six track records fell but none in the sprints in which Filipino stars Eric Cray and Kayla Richard­son took the men’s and women’s 100m ti­tles while the 200m hon­ours went to Viet­nam’s Le Trong Hinh and Sin­ga­pore’s Shanti Pereira re­spec­tively.

The 19-year-old Khairul Hafiz clearly likes the track and is look­ing for­ward to his Games de­but and to pit his skills against ri­vals in­clud­ing Cray and Thai­land’s Ji­rapong Meenapra who won the 100m in 2013.

“This track is very new and is of the same stan­dard as the tracks used abroad for in­ter­na­tional meets and is bet­ter and more com­fort­able com­pared to the old tracks.

“I feel this track is very good to record the fastest time. I hope to do the best at the Sea Games this time,” he said.

The Me­laka-born sprinter also holds the 100m na­tional record with a time of 10.18s. FilipinoAmer­i­can Cray has a best of 10.25s posted in the Sin­ga­pore Games and Ji­rapong’s fastest ever is 10.31s.

The last time a Malaysian claimed the men’s 100m crown was in 2003 through Nazmizan Muham­mad with a time of 10.48s in Hanoi.

Malaysian Athletics Fed­er­a­tion (MAF) pres­i­dent Datuk Karim Ibrahim said the na­tional squad should seize ad­van­tage of the fast track and home ground to re­turn their per­sonal bests and fin­ish among the medal win­ners.

“Ev­ery­one is telling that this is a fast track and they are look­ing for­ward to do bet­ter timings and more records. The ath­letes have two Mondo tracks, one at the Na­tional Sta­dium and the other at the train­ing ground at the Na­tional Sports Coun­cil, so there is no rea­son for them to do badly,

“It will take a wait of an­other 20 years to have the Sea Games in Malaysia, this is the right time for them to give their best.”

Sprints coach M. Bala­mu­ru­gan said his charges were com­fort­able with the new track and they were con­fi­dent of per­form­ing well.

Jad Adrian Washif, head of strength and en­durance at the Na­tional Sports In­sti­tute, said a harder track was more ideal for sprints than mid­dle or long dis­tance events. Ber­nama

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