PETALING JAYA: Taekwondo exponent Elaine Teo put behind a disappointing SEA Games campaign in the best possible fashion when she qualified for the Athens Olympics in the Asian qualifying tournament in Bangkok yesterday.
Elaine beat Jordans Farje Al-Rashid 3-0 to reach the final of the womens under 57kg featherweight competition at the Hua Mak Indoor Stadium.
It secured her a place in the Olympics and ensured that Malaysia are represented in the Games for the second successive time after Lee Wan Yuen, who competed when the sport made its debut in Sydney in 2000.
The finalists in the Asian qualifying tournament are granted berths in the Athens Olympics in August.
With a place in Athens already assured, Elaine, who has just recovered from a shin injury suffered in the run-up to the Vietnam SEA Games last December, conceded a walkover to Taiwans Ching Shih-hsin in the final on the advice of coach R. Dhanaraj.
She has just recovered from injury. Having achieved the objective of qualifying for the Olympics, we did not want to take further risk of getting her injured again, said Dhanaraj.
Dhanaraj was happy that Elaine has become the second Malaysian exponent to qualify for the Olympics.
Elaine faced a disappointing period in December because she came down with a shin injury just before the SEA Games, he said.
It not only spoiled her chance of defending her title in Hanoi but also kept her out of the world qualifying tournament for the Olympics in Paris.
We knew that she was good enough to qualify for the Olympics. She proved it to us today.
Elaine beat Vietnam SEA Games gold medallist Nguyen Thi Diue 4-3 in the quarter-finals.
Three other Malaysians failed in their bids to get to the Olympics.
Wan Yuen muffed the chance, losing 4-5 in extra time to a Japanese exponent in the semi-finals of the womens heavyweight (over 67kg) competition.
Rusfredy Petrus Tokan also came close to making the cut. He suffered a 2-3 defeat by a Taiwanese exponent in the semi-finals of the mens featherweight (below 68kg) competition.
Vietnam SEA Games gold medallist Lim Yit Min failed to get past the first round, losing 0-3 to an exponent from Bhutan.
There are eight categories to be contested in Athens four for men and four for women. However, each country are only allowed to have a maximum of four exponents.