The 19th edition of the Asian games, originally scheduled for 2022, was postponed to this year and became a major targeted event for Russel at the end of the UK /EU outdoor season, running from 23rd September to 8th October 2023.
With a 20.97 SB Russel was selected to contest the men’s 200m event starting on October 1. As well, there was a 4×100 relay team inclusion request from Malaysia, and to leave the UK training base and coach, to come to Malaysia early for September to train with the men’s relay team ahead of the competition.
Relay training in Malaysia pre the games: www.facebook.com/russelalexandernasirtaib/videos
Upon arrival in China with the team it was a very impressive set up for the athletes and a superb stadium setting for the games. Hangzhou had world-class facilities and operationally proved to be the same, a credit to the hosts and organisers.
On Sunday 1st October it was down to business at the HOC stadium for the four qualifying heats of the men’s 200m’s with Asia’s best and a bid to make the semi-finals.
In the morning session and in heat four of the men’s 200m, Russel lined up in lane 9 and managed to hold off the pack to finish fourth with a time of 21.31, booking a berth in the semis for the same days evening session.
A quick physio visit and a completion of the between race protocols had Russel lining up at 7.55pm local time for the semi-final race 1 in lane 8 feeling good after the warmup.
Unfortunately the race didn’t go at all to plan for Russel, finishing with a time of 21.53 and missing out on qualifying for the final.
It was Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Abkar Mohammed finishing in first place with a time of 20.59s.
Bahraini Saeed Saad Al-Khaldi was second with 20.61s followed by Taiwan’s Yang Chun Han 20.67s. All three qualified for the final.
Post-race Russel commented “It is just one of those days where things just don’t go your way. The body feels good but something else happens. It was unfortunate,” as the chance for a final berth was gone.
Ultimately in the men’s 200m final, Abdullah Abkar Mohammed went on to take second in 20.63 and the winner was Ueyama Koki at 20.60. Taipei’s Yang Chun-Han third with 20.74.
On the debut and Asian games experience Russel posted on FB: www.facebook.com/russelalexandernasirtaib/posts
For the relay heats on the following day, October 2, Russel was designated backup as part of the plan to have him fresh for finals subject to the team qualifying, but supporting and available as a replacement. The team of Khairul Hafiz Jantan, Arsyad Saat, Jonathan Nyepa and Azeem Fahmi took to the track finishing fourth fastest among 14 teams overall in the heats at 39.40.
On to relay finals day 3rd October, it was unfortunately a watching brief again for Russel after the relay team management decision to run the same quartet, unbeknownst to Russel until late the previous evening. Alas although the combination had initially come in fifth after clocking 39.19s it was a double disappointment as they were disqualified after a lane infringement.
The conclusion of the games also capped off the 2023 athletics season, which saw Russel finish his season with a season best and Malaysian leading 200m time of 20.97, an all-conditions 100m PB of 10.38 and a Asian Games semi-finalist position. Although it was a tough way to finish the year, there were glimpses of what is possible in the near future and promising signs of what is to come under new guidance and set up.
Russel will now take a few weeks off before preparing and planning for the 2024 season, a year in which will bring about fierce competition and standards as many athletes vie to reach the penultimate goal and reach for an Olympic berth.
“I never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.”
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