WALKER-runner Yuan Yufang has been included in the athletics squad despite just having had treatment for a heart ailment. And National Sports Institute (NSI) director Dr. Ramlan Aziz is strongly against the walker taking part in the Games.
Yufang, who was not among members of the Malaysian athletics team who flew into Hanoi last night, is still recuperating after undergoing laser surgery at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
Yufang underwent a minor surgery to remove a growth in her body after suffering from irregular heartbeat but is said to be still keen on making the trip to Hanoi.
She has been slated to compete in the 10,000m run on the opening day of the athletics programme on Sunday.
“I have read one report sent by her cardiologist in Kuala Lumpur and it clearly states that she needs time to stabilise her body,” said Dr Ramlan in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday.
“It is not a muscular or joint injury, which can be ignored. A heart condition needs proper recovery. There is no justification in allowing her to compete in the SEA Games.”
After her surgery, Yufang was advised to take a two-month break before resuming training.
However, National Sports Council (NSC) director, Datuk Mazlan Ahmad, was quoted as saying on Wednesday that Yufang would certainly compete in one event next week.
She had been projected to contribute two gold medals for Malaysia in the 10,000m and 20km walk before being floored by the ailment.
“If anyone is encouraging her to compete just for the sake of an extra gold medal for Malaysia, that is not the right way to handle such a serious matter,” said Dr Ramlan.
“Yufang should take one step at a time in coming back. To compete on Sunday is just too soon. She should be contented with qualifying for the Olympics and not throw it all away with a rash decision.”
Malaysian chef de mission Norminshah Sabirin, meanwhile, told the Associated Press that Yufang might be able to recover in time to compete in the 20km walk.
“It was not an operation, so we think it is not as bad as we first heard,'' Norminshah said.