Thursday, October 31, 2013

Athletes should go to SEA Games on merit

S. Navinraj qualified on merit to represent the country at the Myanmar SEA Games. However, the National Sports Council want to send Lee Hup Wei instead, reasoning that he should be given another chance because of his back injury.
S. Navinraj qualified on merit to represent the country at the Myanmar SEA Games. However, the National Sports Council want to send Lee Hup Wei instead, reasoning that he should be given another chance because of his back injury.

OUTSIDE interference is an ugly word. And, sadly, it has reared its ugly head again – this time in the selection of athletes to the Myanmar SEA Games in December.
The Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) have already selected their athletes for the Games and there was no place for two veterans with a glorious past – 400m hurdler Noraseela Khalid and high jumper Lee Hup Wei.

As the parent body governing athletics in the country, the MAF have the right to decide who gets to go and who doesn’t.
However, the National Sports Council (NSC) have seen it fit to meddle in the MAF’s selection process.

The MAF had done things the proper way – there was no favouritism and selection was based on current form.
Credit to the MAF for having set a high benchmark and for learning from their mistakes.
Every selection must be accounted for and there is no room for passengers, even if they happen to be Noraseela and Hup Wei.

Yes, these two have contributed so much in the past but the fact is they failed to beat the qualifying mark for the Games.
Noraseela, who turned 34 last month, underwent heel surgery in April and only resumed training last month.

She featured in the Malaysian Open on Oct 20 to try and qualify for the SEA Games.
But she failed dismally.
The 2011 Palembang gold medallist finished a disappointing fifth and last with a poor time of 61.54 in the meet. The SEA Games qualifying mark was 58.97.

Guess what NSC director general Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong’s reason was for wanting to send Noraseela to Myanmar? Because no Malaysian woman has qualified for the event.
Why do the NSC want send to an athlete, who is well past her prime, to the Games?
Then, there is Hup Wei.

The 25-year-old was among six high jumpers who qualified on merit for the Games.
Unfortunately, only two athletes from each country are allowed to feature in each event.
So, the MAF decided that only the top two finishers in the Malaysian Open would be selected for the Games.

Nauraj Singh Randhawa (2.20m) and S. Navinraj (2.15m) came up with the goods and were selected.
Three-time SEA Games gold medallist Hup Wei could only finish fourth with a height of 2.10m.
Guess what Zolkples’ argument was in preferring Hup Wei to Navinraj?

“Hup Wei could have won the Malaysian Open if not for the back injury he suffered during the meet. Hup Wei should be given another chance to qualify for the Games by allowing him to compete in the Pahang Open on Nov 10 as entry by name is on Nov 15,” said Zolkples.

MAF president Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad had made it clear that the Malaysian Open was the last meet for athletes to qualify for the Games.

Noraseela and Hup Wei knew it, and they blew it.
Why do the NSC want to undermine what the MAF had done?
Kudos to the MAF for sticking to their decision. They should not allow NSC to interfere with their selection criteria.

The NSC should just focus on what they are supposed to do – providing funds to the NSAs.
In other words, please mind you own business, NSC!



by Aftar Singh

No comments:

Post a Comment