PETALING JAYA: It was a heart-breaking end to Qabil Ambak’s hopes of becoming the first Malaysian to compete in the Olympics equestrian competition after he ran out of time to meet the eligibility requirements set by the world body.
Qabil got the invite from the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to participate in the Tokyo Olympics dressage competition two weeks ago, achieving a milestone for Malaysia in the sport.
He was promoted to the invitation list after one of the two Asian riders who qualified earlier withdrew.
However, his participation was subject to meeting the eligibility requirements – to take part in at least one international competition this year or earn 66 per cent points.
Equestrian Association of Malaysia (EAM) secretary general Major (rtd) Datuk Yap Mou Soon confirmed that the available slot for Malaysia would now be given to Singapore’s Caroline Chew.
“We tried our best to help him but it was just not meant to be for us. The minimum eligibility requirement set by FEI for the Olympics is 66 per cent points but Qabil only had 64, so he had to compete in another tournament by June 21 to make the cut.
“Unfortunately, Qabil was only given two weeks to do so and it was not possible for him to compete in time.
“Not all competitions offer these FEI qualifying points, so it was very challenging to meet the deadline, not to mention all the travel restrictions in place at the moment.
“Qabil was under a lot of pressure to get it done since he received the Olympics invitation.
“He went to France to try to make it but I’m not sure if he will still compete in any tournaments after this as he has already missed it.
“Qabil has not competed for the past one and a half year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Singapore got the slot and they have an advantage as their rider is based in Europe.
“We will try our best to qualify for the next Olympics in 2024,” added Mou Soon.
The 41-year-old three-time Asian Games silver medallist Qabil finished third in the Asia-Oceania rankings when the Olympic qualification period ended in 2019.