Malaysian teen Khairul clocks stunning 10.18sec in 100m
Malaysia's sprint coach backs 18-year-old for 100m SEA Games gold after a stunning 10.18 effort
There's a new sprint starlet in South-east Asia.
And he's a kampung boy from Malacca.
At the 18th Sukma Games in Sarawak yesterday, 18-year-old Khairul Hafiz Jantan ran a stunning 10.18sec to win the men's 100m.
The previous mark of 10.30 was set in 1998 - the year Khairul was born - by Sarawakian Watson Nyambek at Malaysia's National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
To put Khairul's blistering time in context, the South-east Asia (SEA) Games record is 10.17, set by Indonesia's Suryo Agung Wibowo in 2009, and the winning time at last year's SEA Games in Singapore was 10.25, clocked by US-born Filipino Eric Cray.
The Asian record of 9.91 is held by Qatar's Nigerian-born sprinter Femi Ogunode, while Singapore's national record is 10.37, set by UK Shyam in 2001.
Khairul was in tears after his race as he ran a victory lap with the Malacca state flag draped over his shoulders.
He was all smiles when he met the media later, but was clearly not used to the attention.
"I'm so happy and thankful," he said. "I never expected this."
It has been a whirlwind few months for the teen.
He shot to fame in June when he won gold in the 100m at the Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Ho Chi Minh City, clocking 10.36.
He travelled to Bydgoszcz, Poland, for the IAAF World Under-20 Championships earlier this month, and made the semi-finals with a 10.44.
While fast, especially for his age, no one, including his coaches, expected the time he posted yesterday.
Said Khairul's personal coach, Poad Kassim: "I knew he would break the record at the Sukma. But a 10.18? I never saw it coming.
"I hope he can eventually go below 10 seconds. We will discuss with the Malaysian Athletics Federation and see how best to take him forward."
Malaysia's national sprints coach Nazmizan Muhammad, once nicknamed "Raja Pecut" (Sprint King in Malay) after his 100m and 200m golden double at the 2003 SEA Games in Vietnam, backed Khairul to be the next Malaysian to claim 100m glory at the Games.
"I saw from the morning's heats he clocked a 10.44 and he had a very relaxed run," said the 35-year-old.
"So I knew he had the possibility of breaking the national record and go below 10.30. But I could never imagine he would run a 10.18.
"It's an amazing time. I salute him. It was a world-class run.
"His next target has to be to win gold for Malaysia at next year's SEA Games."