HANGZHOU: The SEA Games men’s 400 metres (m) champion, Umar Osman (pix) hopes to maintain the momentum of his national record run to earn a spot in the finals of the Asian Games.

The 20-year-old athlete, who will make his Asian Games debut in the first round at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium on Friday, is determined to be in the top eight of the Games.

Umar, who admitted that he had to seek the service of a psychologist of the National Sports Institute (ISN) before arriving in Hangzhou because his emotion was affected, but said the session had help raised his spirit and focus to prepare for the challenges of the Asian Games.

“The Asian Games are among the five main competitions in addition to the SEA Games, the World University Games (WUG) and the Asian Championships that I want to peak. So I want to give the best performance,“ he said when met during a training session at the Zhejiang College of Sports Field here.

The runner from Johor has broken the record three times this year, namely the record of 46.34 seconds (s) when he won gold at the Cambodian SEA Games in May, as well as a record of 46.33s and 46.09s at the WUG in Chengdu, China in early August.

Based on records at the 2018 Asian Games, the slowest time to reach the final is 46.21s, which was achieved by Sri Lanka's Kalinga Kumarage in the semi-finals.

Among the runners seen as favorites in this competition are two Japanese representatives - Kentaro Sato (45.00s) and Fugo Sato (45.13s) - as well as Ashraf Osman (45.61s) from Qatar.

Umar, who trained for almost two months at the Singapore Sports School with his coach, Simon Lau Chin Meng since August, said it helped him improve his performance.

“There are important facilities that I can use such as the indoor track, so even if it rains I’m still training. The coach also applied technology to do biomechanics, or test my muscle endurance,“ he said.

Asked about his plans to travel to the United States, he said for now, the matter is still under discussion with the National Sports Council (MSN) after receiving scholarship offers from several institutes there, including Auburn University.

If he decides to join Auburn, he will have the help and support of the country's Sprint King, Muhammad Azeem Mohd Fahmi who joined the university earlier this year. -Bernama

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