Australian high performance consultant Robert Ballard with his wife.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) are set to hire Australian Robert John Ballard as the technical director of coaching in a bid to help improve the standard of athletics in the country.
MAF had came under fire from Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin after managing to win only four gold medals in the Myanmar SEA Games last month – their worst-ever achievement in the history of the Games since 1959.
MAF have been looking for a high performance technical director since last year and the National Sports Council (NSC) are said to be on the verge of getting the services of the 49-year-old former Olympic 400m runner, who comes with high credentials.
Ballard is a sports consultant specialising in strength and conditioning and has worked with a wide range of athletes and sporting organisations at various levels – from track and field (Olympics) to tennis (elite youth to Pro Tour players), football and hockey.
His motto is: “No speed ... no success”.
MAF vice-president Datuk Paduka Mumtaz Jaafar said that Ballard would meet the NSC officials this week to discuss his contract.
“Ballard is also expected to meet the MAF president (Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad). We definitely want a high performance consultant like him ... someone who can help raise the standard of athletics,” she said.
Ballard certainly has a proven track record. He was the consultant for Indonesian athletics in 2007 and 2008, including personally coaching sprinter Surya Agung Wibowo to clock a personal best of 10.17 in the 2008 Beijing Olympic 100m heats.
During his time there, Indonesian athletes also set 18 new national records in various events.
He was then hired as head coach of strength and conditioning for Tennis Federation Indonesia from 2009 to 2011. Indonesia created history by winning all five gold medals in tennis at the 2011 SEA Games.
Ballard had also trained tennis players like Sania Mirza of India, Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan and Dmitry Tursunov of Russia.
Ballard, who is married to an Indonesian and staying in Jakarta, should have no problems communicating in Bahasa Malaysia.
Meanwhile, the six national athletes who won medals in the SEA Games in Naypyitaw last month will feature in the Asian Indoor Championships in Hangzhou from Feb 15-16.
The five men are higher jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa, pole vaulter Iskandar Alwi, triple jumper Mohd Hakimi Ismail, shot putter Adi Alifuddin Husin and 110m hurdler Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian, who will feature in the 60m dash.
The sole woman athlete is 100m hurdler Raja Nurshenna Raja Azhar, who will also compete in 60m dash.
Nauraj is the only one among the six to have won a gold in the SEA Games.