Running for glory

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam track and field athlete Muhammad Noor Firdaus Ar-Rasyid bin Haji Md Idris enjoyed a certain level of progress in showcasing the country’s ability in athletics on the international scene in 2019.

The national athlete made a blistering start to the year when he bagged silver in the 81st Singapore Open Track and Field Championships, a feat that boosted hopes of providing new milestones in the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

In a year where the World Championships, Asian Championships and the Southeast Asian Games would be staged, his heroics in Singapore provided something to build on, especially the motivation to raise the bar with the current national record.

The 23-year old, who is a national record holder in the 200m, clocked 21.65s in the Singapore Open final and set a new season best during the heats round with a time of 21.53s.

With overseas competitions scarce, the Singapore Open represented a much-needed return to action for the athletics team since the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.

Muhammad Noor Firdaus Ar-Rasyid bin Haji Mohd Idris with national coach Isidro del Prado. PHOTO: FADHIL YUNUS

While a medal would undoubtedly be reserved in Muhammad Noor Firdaus’ thoughts, aiming for a season best is a primary target for an athlete who entered any competition.

“Any athlete will target or want to achieve a personal best or national record. Nevertheless, in view that it has been a long time since we had exposure to any competition since the Asian Games last year, I hope to achieve a season best in the 100m and 200m events,” said Muhammad Noor Firdaus.

Lessons were learnt from the Asian Games – one of the major competitions for any athlete apart from the Olympics, World and Asian Championships- as Muhammad Noor Firdaus would strongly testify.

The national sprinter spoke of his experiences in Jakarta, which led him to explain the need to manage nutrition better, how to rest sufficiently, how to control self-confidence and how to face athletes who are recognised at an international level.

During the Asian Athletics Championships, Muhammad Noor Firdaus made headlines in the 100m event when he clocked two new personal bests.

He first qualified to the semi-final stage after posting a time of 10.61s before bettering that time in the next round with a time of 10.60s, just 0.01s shy of the national record held by Muhammad Fakhri bin Ismail.

Later that year, he represented the country in the prestigious and internationally acclaimed IAAF World Athletics Championships for another major appearance under his belt.

Muhammad Noor Firdaus previously competed in the World Championships in London two years ago. There were no shortcuts in his journey as he has been consistently training since the Asian Games in Jakarta last year.

“I have been training for the World Championships for quite a long time. There were no breaks since last year during the Asian Games. I have been training consistently,” recalled the athlete, who was part of the relay team that achieved a national record.

There were no adjustments to his schedule even after he scooped silver in Singapore as he and his coach trains continuously in an effort to improve the nation’s standing in the sport.

Muhammad Noor Firdaus expressed his hopes to eclipse his own national record of 21.39s, which would take him around the 21.3 or 21.2s mark, or alternatively produce a new season best which previously stood at 21.53s. He was 0.01s shy of matching his season best during the Asian Athletics Championships.

“I hope to improve the time and also fine-tune my run. Insya Allah with good experience, with a good track and atmosphere, it will help support to succeed for the SEA Games,” added the national runner, who is ranked 11,191st in the world according to World Athletics.

Towards the end of last year, Muhammad Noor Firdaus excelled in a warm-up Pre-Southeast Asian Games when he bagged gold in the 200m, a test event for the SEA Games in New Clark City.

The warm-up event aimed to familiarise the SEA Games-bound athletes with the running conditions of the Philippines’ track.

Similar to his preparations to the Asian Championships, Muhammad Noor Firdaus headed into a major competition with a newfound level of confidence after adding another medal to his collection.

The national sprinter, who is the country’s hope in athletics, geared up for the World Championships by winning silver in the men’s 100m event with a time of 10.95s in the Club Zoom-ActiveSG Track and Field Meet at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium, Singapore last August.