KUALA LUMPUR: The fight for the president’s post in the Malaysian Athletic Federation (MAF) will be a two-horse race.
With former MAF president Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim pulling out, it will be left to Datuk Karim Ibrahim and Datuk Wan Hisham Wan Salleh to fight it out for the top post when the election is held at the Dewan Komanwel in Bukit Jalil on Oct 31.
Incumbent president Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad had declined to defend his post after serving just one term.
In the last election two years ago, Wan Hisham beat Karim by 25-19 for the MAF deputy president’s post.
But in the fight for the top post this time, Wan Hisham believes he will be the underdog against Karim, who is the Perak AAA president.
“I’ve only received one nomination – from Terengganu – while Karim obtained six. It clearly shows that he is the favourite for the president’s post,” said Wan Hisham, who has been the Terengganu AAA president for the last decade.
The 58-year-old businessman, however, still hopes that the 42 delegates from the 14 states (each state will be represented by three delegates) would elect him as the new president.
“I pledge to help improve the standard of athletics in the country by focusing on the development programme, which Datuk Zainal and I started two years ago,” said Wan Hisham
“We will continue scouting for talent in every state so that we will have a bigger pool of athletes for every one of the 42 events (for men and women) in athletics.
“We can’t just rely on Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) to produce national athletes. I will make sure every state has a comprehensive development programme to lift the standard of the sports.
“My immediate target is to prepare athletes for next year’s SEA Games in Singapore.”
Karim, 58, meanwhile thanked Shahidan for supporting him by pulling out of the race.
“Shahidan told me that he will support me to be the new president. I’m confident of winning the post,” said Karim.
Karim has served MAF since 1993 – first as secretary (1993-2000), then as the vice-president (2002–2007) and deputy president (2009-2012). He lost the deputy president’s post to Wan Hisham two years ago.
“I’m returning to MAF not to take revenge against any official or athlete for going against me in the fight for the deputy president’s post in the last election,” said Karim.
“I just want to help take the sport to greater heights.”