National athletes Maziah Mahusin (3rd R), Md Fakhri Ismail (3rd L), Maizurah Abdul Rahim (C) and Muhd Ammar Safwan Hj Zaidin (2nd R) together with national coaches and officials in a group photo at the Brunei International Airport before departing to Manila to compete in the Philippine Open yesterday. BT/Yusri Adanan
National 100m record holder Md Fakhri Ismail is one of the four national athletes representing Brunei at this week’s Philippine Open in Manila. BT file
BRUNEI’S first female Olympian Maziah Mahusin and the country’s fastest man Md Fakhri Ismail headline the sultanate’s four-member team at today’s Philippine Open in Pasig City, Manila.
Maziah and Md Fakhri will be competing in the 100m and 200m, where they will be joined by Maizurah Abdul Rahim. Completing the list is Muhd Ammar Safwan, who will be lacing up in the 400m. Maziah made history when she became Brunei’s first female Olympian at the 2012 London Olympics, where she set a national record of 59.28s in the 400m. Md Fakhri, meanwhile, set the 100m record of 10.59s at Singapore’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games last June.
Maziah has since switched to the 200m and has a personal best of 25.44s - milliseconds shy of the national record of 25.22s set by Alinawati Ali Bakar at the 2011 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur. She is now hoping to use the Philippine Open as a platform to prepare for the Rio Olympics.
“Lots of preparation needs to be done before the Olympics, among them competing in the Philippine Open,” said Maziah yesterday. “Of course I am looking to improve my personal best… But we shall see,” added the 22-year-old when met with the rest of the team at the Brunei International Airport in Berakas.
Md Fakhri and Maizurah were two of the three athletes awarded Rio 2016 Olympics training scholarship by the International Olympic Committee last year in preparation for this year’s Olympics set in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in August. The third recipient was national 50m freestyle record holder Tiara Shahril Anwar. Meanwhile, national athletics coach Fidel Gallenero is expecting the athletes to improve their personal bests or national records and learn from other athletes in the region.
“I want to see my athletes focus on their records and not so much on bringing back a medal because we are still in our general preparation period,” said Gallenero, who is based in Kuala Belait. “If they can bring back a medal or two, it would be an added bonus, but the key here is for them to gain confidence from exposure to these kind of events. “Athletes from all over the region such as Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and my home country, the Philippines, are on a different level… So young athletes such as Maizurah and Ammar Safwan can reap benefits from the experience.
“We’re preparing for the Olympics in the summer, and participating in international events such as this is crucial for their development,” he added. The three-day Philippine Open is slated until Saturday and is organised by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).