Merit qualifications chance for 6 athletes to Olympics

By BERNAMA / Pic AFP

SIX national sports athletes have been identified with the opportunity to earn a merit ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games next year.

The six athletes are two national high jumpers, Lee Hup Wei and Nauraj Singh Randhawa, men’s discus thrower Muhammad Irfan Shamsuddin, national long jump record holder Andre Anura Anuar, national hop-step-and-jump record holder Muhammad Hakimi Ismail in addition to national sprinter Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi.

National athletics’ head coach Mohd Manshahar Abd Jalil said all the athletes still had the chance to win a merit ticket to Tokyo through several qualifying tournaments early next year as many of these tournaments had to be postponed or cancelled this year following the Covid-19 outbreak.

“These six names were selected based on their respective records in the previous tournaments, and the final list will be decided after discussions between the Malaysia Athletics Federation, the National Sports Council (MSN) and the Malaysian Olympic Council.

“If they fail to qualify on merit, one of them with the best record will fill a wildcard slot offered by the International Association of Athletics Federations,” he told Bernama in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Meanwhile, the former national athlete hoped the country’s athletics’ squad could resume training as usual at MSN Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur in the future despite the priority being given to athletes listed in the 2020 Road to Tokyo programme.

Mohd Manshahar said MSN has so far allowed only athletes enrolled in the 2020 Road to Tokyo programme to undergo one-month preparations at three venues start- ing June 1, at MSN Bukit Jalil, Malaysia Badminton Academy in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur and the National Sailing Centre in Langkawi, Kedah.

Mohd Manshahar revealed that national athletic athletes had been undergoing training at home since the implementation of the Movement Control Order on March 18 and that their training had been monitored by their coaches through online applications such as Zoom.