Qualifying for Paris Olympics is Azeem's No. 1 priority

KUALA LUMPUR: National sprint champion Azeem Fahmi is aiming to make his Olympic debut at the Paris Olympics this year.

The student of Auburn University in Alabama, United States, who created a sensation at the 2022 Under-20 World Athletics Championships in Cali, Colombia and the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games last year, said he desires to continue bringing honours to the country.

"All I am asking is for all fans of my country to pray for me to qualify for the Olympics.

"That is my biggest target this year to continue to promote the country's name and place Malaysia's name on the world stage," said the men's 100m bronze medallist at last year's Hangzhou Asian Games, when contacted by Bernama.

The athlete, who will turn 20 next month, plans to start his mission for Paris 2024, scheduled in July, during Ramadan.

After making thorough preparations, including participating in several indoor competitions, he hopes there will be no obstacles to competing in the Yellow Jacket Invite Open Championships at Georgia Tech, Atlanta on March 15 and 16.

The tournament is the first outdoor competition he will participate this year.

He said competing in the first week of Ramadan was his plan before only going through a training session to enable him to focus on fasting.

"Why me and the coach chose to compete in the first week of Ramadan because I am confident that my body is still in the best condition even though I have started fasting for several days.

"Now I have about six to eight tournaments left for me to try to qualify for the Paris Olympics," said the athlete, who hails from Teluk Intan, Perak.

Azeem's challenge in Atlanta is to record under 10.20s, which is not far off his season best of 10.11 last year and his national record of 10.09 set at the 2022 World Under-20 Championships.

For the record, Azeem finished fifth in the 100m final of the 2023 Asian Championships in Bangkok, Thailand by recording 10.25s and advanced to the first round of the 100m World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Last month, Azeem recorded 6.55 in the 60m event at an indoor championship at Clemson Indoor Track & Field Complex, South Carolina.

Former national record holder Watson Nyambek was the last national athlete to compete in the 100m event at the Olympics in 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney, while former Southeast Asian sprint king Nazmizan Muhammad was the last representative to compete in the 200m event at the 2004 Athens edition. — BERNAMA

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