PETALING JAYA: Uzbekistan coach Alexander Gasparyan does not see it as an impossible task to guide national high jumper Lee Hup Wei (pic) to reach the men’s high jump final at the Tokyo Olympics.
Gasparyan is happy the Malaysian Athletic Federation (MAF) have allowed him to accompany Hup Wei to compete in his third Olympics campaign in Tokyo.
Hup Wei finished 27th on the Road to Tokyo qualifier rankings to qualify on merit for the Games.
A total of 32 athletes led by world No. 1 and Qatar’s world champion Barshim Mutaz Essa, whose 2.43m is the second highest in history, will compete in the men’s high jump event in Tokyo.
“I am happy that I will be by Hup Wei’s side for the Olympics. It will be important for him to be optimistic of his chances to make the final as everyone starts from zero there,” said Gasparyan.
“This is the Olympics but the favourites sometimes struggles to clear the qualifying height because of many factors.
“I think, 11 or 12 athletes should make the final.
“Hup Wei is experienced and if he can clear 2.26m on his first jump, he stands a very good chance.”
The 2.26m is not beyond Hup Wei’s reach as he has a personal best of 2.29m, achieved at the World Championships in 2019 when he became the first Malaysian to reach the final in Doha.
No Malaysian has competed in the track and field athletics final at the Olympics before.
Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan recorded the best athletics achievement for Malaysia at the Olympics level when he reached the 200m semi-finals twice in Tokyo in 1964 and in Mexico City four years later.
The challenge is to replicate his form from Doha and Hup Wei is just aiming to do that.
“The minimum qualifying height is 2.26m from the last two Olympics – in London (2012) and in Rio (2016) – but you can’t clear it on your first attempt all times.
“That’s the challenge as it will then go to countback to determine how many one can go through it.
“I will be working on my run technique and conditioning in the remaining days,” said Hup Wei, who is also happy that he has been cleared of a minor ankle injury sustained after winning gold with a height of 2.10m at the last month’s Qosanov Memorial in Kazakhstan.