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National sprinter Russel Alexander Nasir Taib in action during the men’s 200m event in the first stage of the seventh competition at Alexander Stadium, August 4, 2022. — Bernama pic

Thursday, 04 Aug 2022 10:55 PM MYT

BIRMINGHAM, Aug 4 — Debutant Russel Alexander Nasir Taib was relieved to achieve his goals in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games by sprinting his way to the semi-finals of the men’s 200m tomorrow.

Russel clocked 21.13s to finish second in the seventh heat of the first round, behind the winner from Kenya, Dan Kiviasi Asamba, with 20.76s in a packed Alexander Stadium here.

That was enough for the Malaysian to fight for a spot to the final, as the first two runners in each heat advanced to the semis.

However, today’s time is far from Russel’s own national record of 20.77s set in the Queensland Track Classic, Australia, in 2019.

The 24-year-old athlete described his performance as “rusty”, considering the fact that this was his first competitive action after he last participated in a tournament in Brisbane, Australia, last March.

“I got top two and the goal was to get to the semi-finals at least but obviously the time was not as good as I wanted.

“I have achieved my goals now and anything more than that will be a bonus for me. It was really cool to have a Malaysian in the semi-finals,” he told reporters at the mixed zone.

Now that the 2019 SEA Games bronze medallist has already booked his place in the semi-finals, Russel hopes to run faster to better his own national record and try to reach the final.

Meanwhile, national women’s hammer thrower Grace Wong Xiu Mei, who is also making her debut at the Games, checked into the final with a throw of 59.53m in the Group A qualifying round earlier today.

The 2021 SEA Games champion finished the day in 12th place to clinch the last spot for the final on Saturday. — Bernama