Gametime! Issam Asinga Ties 24-Year-Old 60m National Record

* Issam Asinga in the 60m prelims on Saturday

Photo Credit: Shawn Conlon/MileSplit

- - - 

BOSTON, Mass. -- Issam Asinga's coach had imparted an important lesson ahead of New Balance Nationals Indoor on Saturday. 

Every athlete makes a decision, Gerald Phiri said, especially ones who race through the rounds to reach the finals. 

Some run to qualify. Others tear off from the gun and then shut it down.

Or, as Phiri said, Asinga could take another example. 

"He said when he was the at the World Champs, he broke the Zambian national record three times, each round he broke the record," Asinga said. "He just said, 'Run fast. You run the finals to win.'" 

Asinga, a Zambian dual-national himself, did exactly that, tying the 24-year-old national record in the 60m with a deafening time of 6.57 seconds on the second day of action at New Balance Nationals Indoor. 

The results board flickered from 6.57 to 6.56 and then back to 6.57. The outright record would have to wait. 

Asinga wasn't worried. Upon seeing the clock, he raised his hands in triumph and clapped, ushering the crowd to meet him halfway. They complied, following with a raucous applause.

Casey Combest, the former Owensboro, Kentucky legend now in his 40s -- whose son, in fact, was racing in the freshman division and ran 7.08 seconds -- was the last to accomplish the 60m national record in 1999. He achieved it at the Nike Indoor Classic. 

Asinga had no reservations about racing all-out. 

He said his race featured a better drive phase, a stronger chassis and, as he termed it, "the little things I knew would make a big difference." 

This also briefly fluttered through his head: He had watched the first round of the NCAA Indoor Championships last night.

A few national records went down in the first round, too. 

"I said, why not come out here and T up," Asinga told MileSplit's Olivia Ekpone. "You saw it in the NCAAs. I can't just come out here and shut it down. Come out here and go full speed. Can't play around."

A transfer to Montverde Academy from Missouri, Asinga had assimilated into the Florida program pretty seamlessly this indoor season. 

He entered the national championships with a No. 2 time of 6.59. On Saturday, he said, he wasn't focused on anything else but racing at his best. 

Focusing on just getting the little things right," he said. "up until this year, this is my first full year of training. In Missouri, it was kind of up in the air. My focus was just being the best version of myself. I wasn't thinking national records or anything when I came out here. 

"It's a beautiful journey," he added. "I thank God for bringing me on it. It's just the beginning."

Next up, the semifinals. Asinga still needs to reach the finals. But the opportunity is in front of him, and the outright record is in plain sight. 

"Going for gold. Going for gold," he said. "Whatever happens, happens. Let's just see what happens. Let's see how far I can take it."

Photo Credit: Shawn Conlon/MileSplit