KUALA LUMPUR: Busan Asian Games bronze medallist Farah Begum Abdullah is facing a bleak new year. The senior national diver stands accused of indiscipline and has been dropped from the national squad under the 2006 programme.
Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) secretary Edwin Chong confirmed yesterday that Farah, winner of Malaysia's first diving gold in the SEA Games, has not been included in the 17-member squad identified for the 2006 programme because she did not report for training despite being asked to do so by national coaches.
“We have decided not to include her because she did not turn up for training although the coaches gave specific instructions to her two weeks after the Asian Games,” said Edwin.
“When she did not turn up for training, the coaches told her that unless she trains, she will not be considered in the team. She did not show up so we have not included her in the team.”
The 21-year-old Farah shot to stardom when she hit gold for Malaysia at the 1999 Brunei SEA Games. Just before the 2000 Olympics, though, misfortune struck. She broke her arm in a training mishap.
After a two-year hiatus, she made a comeback just before the Asiad last year. In Busan, she partnered Leong Mun Yee to win the 3m synchronized diving bronze. It was Malaysia's first ever diving medal in the Asian Games.
In Farah's absence, five seniors and 12 junior divers will take part in 2006 programme, targeted for the next Asian Games in Doha. The seniors are Mun Yee, Yeoh Ken Nee, Rossharisham Roslan, Low Lap Bun and Noraznizal Najib.
The youngsters are Zibeon Uzza Belang, Brian Nickson Lomas, Rosatimah Mohd, Gracie Junita Terry, Elizabeth Jimie, Cheong Jun Hoong, Naziratul Amirul Azmir, Mohd Salim Yunus, Terriena Lim Ah Jin, Khairul Safuan, James Sandayud, Ahmad Fakhri Khairuddin.
Edwin said the seniors would be geared towards qualifying for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games while the juniors will be preparing for the Asian junior championship in Macau in August.
In line with the Olympics qualifying process, Edwin said, the divers would be sent to compete in the World Diving Grand Prix circuit.
“The seniors' first assignment will be the GP leg at Adelaide, Australia from Feb 14-16. The other legs identified are in China, Spain, Canada and Italy. The divers will have to meet the qualifying standards in the designated international competitions,” said Edwin.
If the divers meet the qualifying standards, they would be allowed to compete in two major meets, which will be used to decide the final entries for Athens.
The two major meets are the World Championships in Barcelona from July 13-27, which offers Olympic berths to the top 12 finishers; and the 2004 Diving World Cup in Athens in January next year, which will offer another 34 slots.
The other assignment for the divers this year is SEA Games in Vietnam in December.
The divers are currently training under three Chinese coaches – Yang Zhuliang, Ren Shaofan and Xu Jie.
Meanwhile, Edwin said the national swimmers would only start their centralised training programme after the Chinese New Year.
“We have sent out offer letters to athletes to join the national team. Training is expected to start in February.”