NATIONAL track and field athletes are in danger of missing the Glasgow Commonwealth Games if the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) sticks to its stringent qualifying requirement.
OCM has set the sixth place marks of the 2010 edition in New Delhi as the qualifying standard but the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) has its own, and generally lower, criterion.
High jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa and pole vaulter Iskandar Alwi have met MAF qualifying standard but not OCM’s.
In fact, the women’s 4x100m quartet have surpassed OCM’s qualifying standard but only because two disqualifications and a bungled baton change by Nigeria in 2010 led to a low 48.87-second qualifying mark.
MAF is reluctant to send the women’s quartet to Glasgow where the high level of competition would mean a reduced chance of making the event’s final.
The MAF selection committee will meet on Monday to finalise a list of recommended athletes for the Commonwealth Games, which they will submit to OCM on May 30.
“The selection committee will discuss on Monday who should go to Glasgow,” said MAF general manager Datuk Kenneth J. Luis yesterday. “We also have to address OCM’s query over the basis of our qualifying standards. We have submitted a long letter detailing the research with which we set our standards.
“Based on OCM’s standards, neither Nauraj nor Iskandar have qualified but the women’s relay sprint have, and only because of so many disqualifications in 2010.
“We don’t think it is justified to compete in the women’s relay when the standard is so low.”
If OCM rejects MAF’s recommendation, no track and field will be included in the national contingent for the first time since 1982.
No Malaysian track and field athlete was sent either to the 1970 edition while the country joined the boycott of the 1986 Games in Edinburgh over the British government’s sporting links with apartheid-era South Africa.
Besides Nauraj and Iskandar, MAF is likely to recommend a few others who failed to make the cut, including high jumper Lee Hup Wei, hurdler Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian and hammer thrower Jackie Wong.
The Perak Open in Ipoh last weekend was the last tournament for athletes to qualify and only Noor Amirah Nafiah came close with a 6.10m effort in the women’s long jump, which was 15 centimetres short of MAF’s qualifying mark.