Athletics:Long Walk To Beijing ; Yufang
NST Online > 18/1/2008
Yufang will have to qualify for the Olympics in a sanctioned race in the next seven months.
WALKER Yuan Yufang is in danger of missing the Beijing Olympics as the Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (MAAU) has been unable to ratify her qualifying time posted in October.
Yufang clocked one hour, 37 minutes and 21 seconds in a 20km walk event in Kunming, China to beat the category B Olympic qualifying time of 1:38:00 as she became the second track and field athlete after Roslinda Samsu to achieve the required qualifying mark for Beijing.But the walk event she competed in has not been recognised by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) as one in which qualifying times for the Olympics is accepted.MAAU are also hamstrung by the fact that documentation submitted by Yufang is in Mandarin and efforts to obtain additional details from the Kunming race organisers came to nought.”There are a limited number of races where race walking is concerned which are recognised by the IAAF for Olympic qualifying purposes and the Kunming event is not among them. We have sent a letter to the Chinese race organisers for clarification but all we received was a rubber-stamped copy of our original letter,” said MAAU vice president Karim Ibrahim.
“We will write again to the Chinese athletic association in order to submit the ratification to the IAAF.”If that effort fails, Yufang faces the prospect of replicating her qualifying effort in a sanctioned race in the next seven months before the close of the qualification period on July 23.But Yufang could settle the matter herself when she returns to Kunming next month for training where she will join 10 other national athletes who will undergo conditioning for two months.Sprinters Noor Imran Hadi, Latif Nyat, Zabidi Ghazali, Arif Naim Jefry, K. Amran Raj, S. Thipan, Zafril Zuslaini and middle distance runner M. Vadivellan leave for Kunming on Jan 28 before they are joined by walkers Yufang, Teoh Boon Lim and Yap Kwee Kee.Five athletes – hurdlers Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian and Faiz Muhammad, 400m runner Zaiful Zainal Abidin, high jumper Lee Hup Wei and pole vaulter Roslinda – have been shortlisted for the Feb 14-16 Asian Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar.Meanwhile, the battle for the deputy president’s post in MAAU’s elections on Sunday will be a straight fight between Karim and former deputy president Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah as expected.MAAU president Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, in announcing the nominees in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, said he hopes whoever is elected will work for the betterment of the association and the sport.Incumbent vice president Datuk Rashidi Mohd Noor faces a challenge from Pahang AAA secretary R. Annamalai and Federal Territory AAA vice president Leo Leslie Armstrong.Former sprint queen Datuk Mumtaz Jaafar will be challenging incumbents Mohamad Awang, M. Iyaru and S. Govindaraju for one of three executive board seats up grabs.