KUALA LUMPUR: Eight foreign nations will provide competition for local athletes at the Malaysian Open, which starts on Friday, at the National Stadium in Bukit jalil.
The three-day event has attracted athletes from Kuwait, Qatar, South Korea, Japan, Jordan, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.
Malaysia will be represented by 16 contingents, including Police and Armed Forces.
Sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan will be the top draw card as he hopes to bounce back from his disappointing Gold Coast Commonwealth Games outing last month.
In last year’s edition, Khairul clocked 20.90s in the 200m to smash Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan’s 49-year-old national record of 20.92 set at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. He, however, did not compete in the 100m
At Gold Coast, Khairul clocked a poor 10.50s in the 100m heats and failed to reach the semi-finals.
The 20-year-old, who holds the national record of 10.18s, hopes to clock 10.20s in the meet on Friday.
His coach Poad Kassim said: "I am optimistic Khairul would be able to achieve his goal. He is physically and mentally ready.
"His main rivals will be his teammates and I don’t think sprinters from other countries will be able to beat him to the gold,” said Poad.
Khairul is expected to face resistance from his teammates in Haiqal Hanafi, Badrul Hisyam, Jonthan Nyepa and Nixson Kennedy for the 100m crown.
Malaysian Athletics Federation president Datuk Karim Ibrahims said: "The meet doubles up as an Asian Games qualifier.”
Sea Games silver medallist Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli will feature in the women’s 100m event.
The other notable Malaysians competing at the meet are high jumpers Lee Hup Wei and Nauraj Singh along with hammer thrower Jackie Wong and hurdler Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian.