KUALA LUMPUR: A one-month “secret” training stint in Morocco this month for the SEA Games-bound athletes has come under fire from the Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union’s (MAAU) executive board and council members, who have been kept in the dark about the trip.
The MAAU executive board and council members questioned the wisdom of those who arranged the training stint in Morocco during the fasting month and without the knowledge or sanction of the MAAU.
According to MAAU deputy president Datuk Danyal Balagobal, the trip was kept a secret to prevent such information from being published, as other countries would come to know of the progress of our athletes.
“Only the key people – MAAU president Datuk Syed Aidid Syed Murtaza, me and National Sports Council director-general Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz – are aware of it,” he said yesterday.
However, he did not give any reason as to why the MAAU executive board and their council members were not informed.
Perak AA secretary S.O. Appan questioned the rationale of sending the athletes to Morocco as it is an Islamic country and would be observing the fasting month.
He said there would be no competitions and the country’s athletes would not train with the Malaysians.
Furthermore, the weather in Morocco is rather cold at this time of the year while Manila is expected to be hot and humid during the Games from Nov 27-Dec 5.
What was more surprising is that even the athletics manager for the Games, M. Iyaru, was not informed or aware of the trip.
“This is news to me,” said Iyaru. “Why Morocco when there are other countries where they can train and take part in competitions?”
He added that he only came to know about the matter when he read in a local daily that athletes M. Vadivellan (pic), D. Jayakumar and Mohamad Shahrulhaizy Abdul Rahman had left for a training stint to Morocco with coach V. Krishnan.
MAAU vice-presidents Datuk Rashidi Mohd Noor, Karim Ibrahim, executive board members S. Vegiyathuman, S. Chinetamby and council member P. Renggan also expressed surprise when asked about the trip.
Karim added that nobody in MAAU was against sending athletes for training stints overseas, but such trips must be justified.
“Since the MAAU office is not aware of the trip, I deem this is a back door arrangement and would like the Sports Minister to look into the matter.”
Meanwhile, Hurricane Wilma, which has hit Mexico and Cuba, has thrown a spanner in the plans of eight Games-bound athletes, who had been scheduled to undergo a one-month training stint in Cuba.
S. Ravindran (200m), Mohd Zafril (400m), Robani Hassan (110m hurdles), Mohd Shahrul Amri (long jump), Lee Hup Wei (high jump) and Teh Weng Chang (pole vault), Moh Siew Wei (100m hurdles) and Ngew Sin Mei (long and triple jump) were to have left on Thursday night but were told to cancel their trip.
“We have to think about the safety of our athletes. Furthermore, I was told that the international airport in Cuba is closed because of the weather,’’ said coach Hanapiah Nasir. “With the cancellation of the trip, they will now train locally.’’