THE Malaysian Athletic Union (MAU) defended its decision to nominate Lee Hup Wei and Noraseela Khalid for two London Olympics wild card slots after questions were raised over the the pair's current form.
Lee Hup Wei and Noraseela Khalid have not performed well this year.
High jumper Hup Wei and 400m hurdler Noraseela, whose performances this year barely came close to their personal bests, were given the nod over 110m hurdler Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian and pole vaulter Roslinda Samsu respectively.
Rayzam expressed his disappointment at being passed over in favour of Hup Wei despite achieving a personal best of 13.81 seconds at the Australian Open in April. MAU president Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said that at the time they nominated Hup Wei and Noraseela to the Olympic Council of Malaysia on June 15, Hup Wei (93rd) was ranked higher than Rayzam (135th) by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) while in the case of the women, neither had a world ranking although Noraseela did register a higher performance score than Roslinda.
"After we submitted the names, there was no way to change it unless someone qualified automatically. We did appeal to have Rayzam and Roslinda included as well but this was rejected. "We were only granted two wild cards and these were given to Hup Wei and Noraseela on the recommendation of the selection committee based on the data we had available from the IAAF. This was then endorsed by the council.
"Although subsequently Rayzam and Roslinda achieved better results, we could not change the names because nobody qualified automatically," said Shahidan after chairing a MAU coaching committee meeting at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday. None of the four athletes achieved the 'B' Olympic qualifying standard despite spending a month competing in Europe.
Roslinda posted a season's best of 4.20m but was below the qualifying mark of 4.40m while Noraseela had a best of 59.25s with the qualifying standard being 56.65. Rayzam needed to post a time of 13.60 seconds to qualify for London while the requirement for Hup Wei, whose 2.21m season's best equalled the winning height posted at the Malaysia Games by A. Kavee Alagan, was 2.28m.
In a separate development, Shahidan announced that MAU's annual general meeting and elections will be held no later than Sept 23, possibly earlier if the audit report is completed before then. On the case of Yunus Lasaleh, Shahidan said the relay runner has been suspended provisionally until a hearing is held to determine his punishment for failing a dope test at the Sea Games last year where Malaysia won gold in the 4x400m which has since been stripped. This will be determined by IAAF, which could also decide to delegate the matter to MAU.