National sprinter Md Fakhri Ismail (R) poses for a photo with Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt at the Air Force Track Club in Rio de Janerio after a Rio Olympics training session earlier this week. Picture: Courtesy of Md Fakhri Ismail
MD Fakhri Ismail is ready to lace up for the race of his life at the Rio Olympics.
The 25-year-old has set his sights on a new national record in the men’s 100m event when he takes to the tracks of the Olympic Stadium in the preliminary round today (8.30pm onwards Brunei time).
Brunei’s fastest man set the national record of 10.59s in the heats at last year’s 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore. “My target is to break the national record and qualifying to the next round will be a bonus,” said Fakhri in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.
The Brunei contingent landed in Brazil last Tuesday and Fakhri felt that the main thing to adjust to was the cold weather. “I felt a bit jetlagged for the first two days but I had to start training the next day with light warm ups. The time difference now is no longer a problem,” said the sprinter.
“The venue is alright and they are using the Mondo track, which is considered the best track in the world. “Training has been alright with no problems, except that the weather is a bit cold. I’m getting used to running in this kind of weather because Brunei is hot,” he added.
All the big names in athletics — including Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt and American Justin Gatlin — are in Brazil to vie for Olympic gold. When asked if he has managed to learn a few things from any other athletes at the quadrennial Games, Fakhri replied: “This is the biggest stage I’m competing in and I’ve met a lot of superstars, but I haven’t had a chance to talk to any of them because everyone is just keeping their focus,” he added.
The national sprinter went on to thank the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BDNOC), Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports as well as the Brunei Darussalam Athletics Federation (BDAF) for the opportunity to compete at the Rio Olympics.
Fakhri made history after becoming the first Bruneian to progress to the heats of the 100m event at the World Athletics Championships by clocking a time of 10.73s in the preliminary round at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing in August last year.
Fakhri, who was a recipient of the Olympic Scholarship awarded by the International Olympic Council (IOC) through the Olympic Solidarity Programme last November, last competed at the Hong Kong Inter-City Athletic Championship 2016 in June – when he placed fifth overall after producing a time of 10.88s in the final.
Maizurah Abd Rahim is the other sprinter at the August 5-21 Rio Olympics and she will compete in the women’s 200m event on Monday.