KUALA LUMPUR: The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) have maintained that swimmer Cindy Ong does not deserve a place in the 2006 Project squad or to get training allowance because she has not shown any improvement in competitions last year.
Asum secretary Edwin Chong said yesterday that Cindy also did not appear to show interest in pursuing excellence in a swimming career.
“We gave her two chances to earn a place in the Asian Games squad last year but, on both occasions, she withdrew at the last minute,” he said.
Edwin was replying to a report in The Star in which Cindy’s father, Kok Leong, had taken Asum to task for dropping her from the squad.
“She was to compete in the South-East Asian (SEA) meet in Bangkok last June in a bid to win a place in the Busan Asiad but she withdrew,” said Edwin.
“A month later, we gave her another chance to take part in the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur. She trained at the KL Swimming pool in Cheras but withdrew on competition day.
“When I asked her why she pulled out, Cindy said that she was training in preparation for the Miss Perak beauty contest. The question is why she did she come all the way from Ipoh to train in Cheras for a beauty contest?
“When I met her in Ipoh, I asked her in front of her dad, about her future plans and she said that she would continue swimming for her college in the United States.
“She also said that she had no plans for the future and would take it one step at a time.
“We cannot consider swimmers who show no focus on his or her future in the sport and those who have not shown improvement for the 2006 Project squad.”
Edwin added that Cindy had not shown any progress since breaking the women’s 100m butterfly national record with a time of 1:03.31 in a pre-SEA Games meet in Kuala Lumpur in July 2001.
“Last year, she only competed in Sukma in Kota Kinabalu and clocked 1:05.47, which is five seconds slower than the third-placed qualifying mark (1:00.87) for the Busan Asian Games,” he said.
Edwin added that Cindy, who is studying in the US, was already 19-year-old and they were not sure whether she would still be competitive for the 2006 Asiad in Qatar.
“We opted for young swimmers because we are sure that they will be around to be considered for selection for the Asian Games in three years’ time,” he said.
Cindy’s father also questioned Asum’s criteria on the eligibility of training allowance for national swimmers.
Edwin added that only swimmers who had earned a place in the Manchester Commonwealth and Busan Asian Games last year were eligible for the allowance.
“Swimmer Anthony Ang received the allowance because he had earned a place in the 4x100m medley team for the Manchester Games,” he said.
“But he chose not to compete in the Games and we decided not to consider him anymore for selection and the allowance given by the National Sports Council (NSC) was stopped.
“Cindy has not qualified for an Asian or Commonwealth Games or an international multi-sports Games of a higher level. Therefore, she is not eligible for the allowance.”
Edwin added that the allowance was stopped after the Busan Asiad last October.
He also said that allowance would only be paid to those who qualified for the Athens Olympics next year and the 2006 Asiad and Commonwealth Games.
“I am surprised why Cindy’s dad is angry with us (Asum). It appears that he does not understand the way the system works,” said Edwin.
He added that only four swimmers based in the US received grants from the NSC.
Manchester Games silver medallist Lim Keng Liat and Siow Yi Ting receive full grants from the NSC while Wong Tuck Kar and Saw Yi Khy get partial grants.
Edwin said that the door was still open for Cindy to make a return to the team.
“She is a good swimmer and we’d love to have her in the national team. We are not against any swimmers. But she must show results to be considered for selection,” he said.