Jakarta. Indonesia's star sprinter Lalu Muhammad Zohri doesn't know how to slow down.
The sprinter broke personal, national and Southeast Asian records while finishing third in the 100-meter sprint at the Seiko Golden Osaka Grand Prix on Sunday, also earning himself a place in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Zohri ran the Grand Prix final in a time of 10.03 seconds, benefiting from a tailwind of 1.7 meters per second at Osaka's Yanmar Stadium.
The 2020 Olympics qualification time is 10.05 seconds, with an allowance for a tailwind no faster than 2 meters per second – the same requirement for official record in track athletics.
Zohri, already the fastest man in Southeast Asia, slashed his previous record of 10.13 seconds made in the 2019 Asian Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar, last month.
In Osaka, the 18-year-old showed he was up to the challenge of the world stage, running neck-and-neck behind American sprinter Justin Gatlin, 37, the reigning world champion and an Olympic gold medalist, who won the Grand Prix's gold with a time of 10.00 seconds.
In second place was Japanese Yoshihide Kiryu, 23, with a time of 10.01 seconds. Kiryu is the Japanese record holder with a sub-10 second record, a rarity among Asian sprinters.
He beat Zohri in Doha and was also part of Japan's 4x100 team relay, which won gold ahead of silver-medalists Indonesia – the team included Zohri – in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta last year.
Apart from the Olympics ticket, Zohri's personal goal is to break the 10-second barrier.
His coach Eni Nuraeni Sumartoyo has been saying Zohri is on the right track to make the milestone.
But some said Zohri might have missed a chance to do it in Osaka.
"We congratulate Zohri for breaking the national record. But I had a chance to reprimand him for not going under 10.00 seconds as expected; he just missed it by the blink of an eye," Bob Hasan, the chairman of Indonesian Athletics Federation (PB PASI) said in a statement.
Tigor Tanjung, the federation's secretary general, said Zohri almost missed the Grand Prix entirely because he did not officially qualify for the event.
"After Zohri won a silver medal with a record time of 10.13 seconds in Doha, I got in touch with the organizers of the Seiko Grand Prix. I told them Zohri only lost to the Japanese sprinter Yoshihide [in Doha]," he said.
The organizers agreed with Tigor and allowed Zohri to compete as an invited runner.
With the Tokyo Olympics ticket now in his hands, Zohri had no words other than gratitude for the federation and his coaches.
"Thank you all, everyone in PB PASI, especially coach Eni, coach Erwin, coach Farel, coach Fadlin and all of my friends. I thank all of you very much; thanks to your prayers and support I have been able to give my best for Indonesia," Zohri said in a statement.
Zohri will now run in the 2019 World Championships in Athletics in Doha in September. His time in Osaka was also well below the event's cutoff time of 10.10 seconds.