Sanctioned or not, the show is on for Malaysia International Marathon

OCM vice-president Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah (left) and deputy president Tan Sri Mohamad Noor Rahim speaking to the media after the launch of Malaysia International Marathon in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: The inaugural Malaysia International Marathon (MIM) will go on as planned on May 23-24 at the second Penang bridge.

This is one of Olympic Council of Malaysia’s (OCM) platforms to nurture the country’s long-distance runners and to raise fund.

OCM vice-president Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah refuted claims that the MIM was illegal and assured that the show, which is expected to attract 30,000 runners, would go on.

On Wednesday, the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) had issued a two-page statement claiming that OCM cannot host the event without their sanction.

MAF claimed that the race was illegal and that if OCM persisted in hosting it, they would seek advice from the Sports Commissioner with regards to taking legal action.

Danyal brushed it off as a non-issue.

He said that they had enough support and endorsement to stage the race and there is no need for another endorsement by the current MAF president, Datuk Karim Ibrahim.

“This was planned two years ago and we had worked together with MAF (under then president Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad) to do all the necessary paperwork involving the different government sectors. Penang AAA are giving full support and we also have the blessings from Youth and Sports Minister (Khairy Jamaluddin),” Danyal said after the launching of the MIM at a leading hotel here.

Karim is the new MAF president after winning the federation's election November last year.

“The race was scheduled last year but we had to postpone it because the new bridge wasn’t ready to be used at that time,” said Danyal.

“I’m truly bemused by all this. As an umbrella body for all national sports associations (NSAs), OCM have the right to run the programmes. The irony is that we are organising an athletics event but the national body are against it.

“Our intention is sincere ... to host this event and raise money for all NSAs. In fact, all NSAs will put up booths to promote their sports during the marathon.”

Danyal clarified that the marathon was just one of the many initiatives in the pipeline as OCM try to re-brand their role.

“Our NSAs are struggling to raise funds and this is OCM’s way of helping. We also have other activities lined up to support all NSAs. OCM want to take a more proactive approach in working with the NSAs,” said Danyal, who is also the OCM strategic and marketing chairman.

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