KUALA LUMPUR: Former American 400m hurdler David Patrick has been hired as the chief coach to revive the ailing state of Malaysian athletics.
The Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) made the drastic decision to hire a foreign coach following the poor outing in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April and the Asian Games in Jakarta in August.
The Malaysian athletes not only returned empty-handed from both the Games but some of them dished out really poor performances.
Patrick featured in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and finished eighth in the final.
The 58-year-old, who won bronze in the 1988 IAAF Grand Prix finals in Berlin, has 16 years of coaching experience.
MAF president Datuk Karim Ibrahim said they needed an experienced Patrick to restore the coaching set-up.
“We decided to hire him as United States have the best athletics training programmes which have produced a number of world-class athletes,” said Karim.
“He’ll present a report on how he is going to help Malaysian athletes to be among the best in Asia.
“He’ll focus on sprints, hurdles and relay athletes and will also monitor the programmes of the other local coaches.”
Karim said he was happy that the National Sports Council (NSC) director Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail has agreed with their plan.
“NSC have also agreed to pay the American coach’s salary and we thank NSC for their support,” said Karim.
Meanwhile, 30 athletes have been shortlisted for training in preparation for the SEA Games in the Philippines next year.
Karim said the qualifying mark for the SEA Games is the silver medal at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
“We’ll use the National Open Championships in Bukit Jalil (March 22-23) to select the athletes for next year’s SEA Games,” said Karim.
“Athletes who are not in the SEA Games training programme will be picked if they beat the qualifying mark.
Karim added that all local road runs in Malaysia have to get sanction from MAF.
“We’ve submitted five reports to the Sports Commissioner Datuk Zaiton Othman about local road runs, which were organised without our approval,” he said.
Coincidentally, one of the road races organised on Dec 10 last year that allegedly did not get the permit from the Sports Commissioner.
A car ploughed into the runners during that event – the Klang City Marathon – resulting in the death of runner Evelyn Ang.
She died from her injuries three months later.