SEA Games 2017

SEA Games: Sprint king Khairul Hafiz Jantan is toast of Malaysia

Malaysia's Khairul Hafiz Jantan pips Filipino Eric Cray to the 100m finish line, much to the delight of the Bukit Jalil crowd. The 19-year-old crossed the finish line in 10.38 seconds to clinch gold in the blue-riband event on his SEA Games debut.
Malaysia's Khairul Hafiz Jantan pips Filipino Eric Cray to the 100m finish line, much to the delight of the Bukit Jalil crowd. The 19-year-old crossed the finish line in 10.38 seconds to clinch gold in the blue-riband event on his SEA Games debut. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

In 10.38 seconds last night, Malaysian sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan ended his country's 14-year wait for another men's 100m gold.

Roared on by an estimated 15,000-strong home crowd at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, the 19-year-old won the blue-riband event on his SEA Games debut, becoming the first Malaysian to win the race since Nazmizan Muhammad's 10.47sec effort at the 2003 Games in Hanoi.

He is also the fourth sprinter of his country to win the 100m crown, after Nazmizan, Gunaratnam Rajalingam (Bangkok 1967) and M. Jegathesan (Kuala Lumpur 1965).

Last night's spectators had already been in high spirits, buoyed by Malaysian Zaidatul Husniah's silver in the women's 100m.

When the starting gun for the men's 100m final went off, their cheers reached a crescendo and peaked as their hero, arms raised, crossed the finish line first.

He took a tumble on the track but got up almost immediately, after which he was instantly surrounded by photographers as he embraced his coach Poad Kassim, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Malaysia's Minister for Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin.

  • 2003

  • The last time Malaysia won the men's 100m gold at the SEA Games.

Philippine defending champion Eric Cray, 28, was second in 10.425sec, while Thailand's Kritsada Namsuwun finished third (10.428sec).

Khairul, who holds Malaysia's 100m record (10.18sec), faced a formidable field including 2013 winner Jirapong Meenapra, 24, and 2015 silver and bronze medallists Yaspi Boby, 29, and Iswandi, 26, of Indonesia.

It was a race that left spectators, volunteers and officials all wanting a piece of Khairul, as last year's Asian junior champion continued to be mobbed by fans long after the victory ceremony.

A teary Khairul, who exchanged a hug with Cray after the race, said: "It's very meaningful for me. It is a medal the Malaysians were looking forward to, and I managed to seize it back.

"I am grateful because it is my first time at the SEA Games and I won gold for Malaysia, in Malaysia, with all my friends here."

He will compete in the 200m today and the 4x100m on Friday. Khairul is also the national record holder in both those events, and while his immediate target is a clean sweep of the three SEA Games golds, he has a much bigger long-term goal in mind.

"I want to go to the Olympics," he declared.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Sprint king Khairul is toast of Malaysia'. Print Edition | Subscribe