Brunei's Md Fakhri Ismail (C), Britain's Chijindu Ujah (L) and Bahrain's Kemarley Brown compete in the 100m first round at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. Picture: AFP
THE Rio Olympics will forever be etched into the memory of Md Fakhri Ismail.
The national sprinter made the country proud after progressing into the first round of the men’s 100m event after finishing eighth overall out of 22 competitors in the preliminary round on Saturday.
He started out strongly to lead much of the race before finishing third with a time of 10.92 seconds in Heat 3 at the Olympic Stadium. The 25-year-old then finished at the end of the nine-athlete Heat 1 of the first round crossing the line on 10.95s. Fakhri was delighted to advance to the first round but was disappointed with his time having targeted to break his national record of 10.59s set at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore in June last year.
“I think this is the best start I’ve had but I struggled in the final 20-30 metres. I never expected to qualify to the first round of my event,” said Fakhri in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday. “I’m happy to be able to qualify for the next round but I’m not happy with my time. My body hasn’t completely adjusted but it was a good experience running in cold weather,” he added.
“I will just focus for my next race and hopefully I’ll be able to come back stronger for the SEA Games next year,” continued the sultanate’s fastest man.
Having become the first Bruneian to qualify for the final of the event of the SEA Games after his record time, he then wrote more 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 10.71s in the preliminary round at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing in August last year.
He considers running in the same heat as Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt then as the biggest highlight of his career so far but the Rio Olympics also hold a special place in his heart. “The best moment for me is to be able to represent Brunei at the Olympics for the first time and being the flag bearer,” said Fakhri.
“With all the competitions such as the SEA Games to the World Championships of course the Olympics is the one at the top,” he added. Fakhri also felt thankful to those who provided him the support to get him this far.
“Thank you Brunei for your prayers and support. I also want to give special thanks to my parents, family, teammates and friends for the encouraging and supportive words that I received after the race,” he concluded.