The national men's 4x100m relay team posing with their medals after returning from the 2014 Malaysia Open Athletics Championship in Perlis, Malaysia yesterday. Picture: BT/Syarif Rasani
The national men's 4x100m relay team were as surprised as anyone after breaking a 17-year national record when winning their event at the 2014 Malaysia Open Athletics Championship.
The four-man team smashed the long standing national record of 42.07s after they recorded a time of 41.51s, seeing them finish at the front of the pack at the Tuanku Syed Putra Stadium in Kangar, Perlis on Thursday.
Running in order of Muhd Nur Firdaus Ar Rasyid, Mohd As Syafie Bohari, Abdul Rahim Abdullah and Mohd Fakhri Ismail, they outpaced Sabah's 41.64s and Malaysia Armed Forces' 41.96s - while host nation Perlis trailed in fourth with 43.04s.
Fakhri, who anchored the race, confessed to The Brunei Times that breaking the record was definitely not on their list of goals. "We didn't expect to beat the national record because we were only aiming to beat our personal best of 42.8s," said Fakhri after arriving back to Brunei with the rest of the athletics team yesterday.
"We weren't even trying to target any medals. "Now our target is to beat the national record time again," noted Fakhri at the Brunei International Airport in Berakas.
Team manager Aida Tawang shared that the new record and gold medals were a bonus for the Bruneians. "Actually we didn't expect any of this, even the boys," said Aida.
Aida admitted that before the race they weren't expecting to come in first place after Sabah's team manager told her that they sent their strongest athletes to take part in the Malaysia Open. "I advised all our athletes not to have high expectations and don't be too over confident, and in the end they won the gold medal, which was a bonus," added the manager.
"MAF (Malaysian Athletics Federation) were very excited about our boys, even though they didn't expect it - and Sabah also - they thought that their boys' performance had dropped. "I said no, you have not dropped, it's still consistent and the only thing is that our boys have improved." Aida replied to the Sabah side.
Brunei Athletics Association (BAA) president Kifli Hj Jaafar greeted the athletes upon their arrival and shared that the association plans to focus on the 4x100m event as he feels other countries focus more on individual events.
"They focus more on those events and spend less time on the team events," said Kifli. "Relay is one of our opportunity events which we are preparing for the next Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.
"I say congratulations to these runners, but however, BAA are still searching for the best runners in Brunei for the team for the future," added Kifli.