Walkers to train at controversy-embroiled Ranau base

KUALA LUMPUR: Six national walkers will be the first to train in Ranau, Sabah.

The six – Laos SEA Games gold medallist Teoh Boon Lim, Lo Choon Sieng and S. Dhiban (men); China-born Yuan Yufang Norliyana Mohd Rusni and Sukma (Malaysia Games) 10km gold medallist Soon Gie Chi (women) – are preparing for the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi City, Japan, on March 11.

They will leave for Ranau on Wednesday.

The move to shift the athletics training base from Bukit Jalil here to Ranau has raised a storm among national athletes.

Last month, eight top athletes complained to Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek about the Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union’s (MAAU) decision to shift the training base to Ranau.

The move is expected to cost RM3mil.

It looks like their complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

MAAU deputy president Karim Ibrahim said yesterday that the National Sports Council (NSC) had agreed to finance the expenses for the six athletes, three coaches and one National Sports Institute (ISN) masseur.

The coaches are Jagjit Singh, V. Subramaniam and T. Morgan.

Karim said the walkers would benefit from training in Ranau “because the weather there is similar to the chilly conditions in Nomi City”.

“The high altitude conditions in Ranau will be a good place for the walkers to train and improve on their personal bests in the Asian walking meet,” said Karim.

“The competition in Nomi City will be tough as all top Asian walkers will be competing. We hope our walkers will clock good times and qualify for the Indonesia SEA Games in November.”

The qualifying time is the silver medal mark of the Laos Games – 1’32.09 for men and 1’45.23 for women.

Meanwhile, Karim said that three national long-distance runners – SEA Games 1,500m silver medallist Mohd Jironi Riduan, J. Karthik and S. Sivamanogaran – would not compete in the Asian Cross-Country championships in Kathmandu, Nepal on Feb 20 “because they did not train together in Ranau”.

Jironi had to opt out due to his studies at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in Serdang while Karthik, of Malacca, also could not train in Ranau because of family matters.

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