That sinking feeling

Swimming coach Bart Kizierowski

PETALING JAYA: Thanks but no thanks. Former Polish swimmer Bart Kizierowski (pic) will not be coming to Malaysia to coach the national swimming team after all.

Kizierowski, who is from Poland, was supposed to start work in Bukit Jalil after Chinese New Year but has now changed his mind about coming here.

The National Sports Council (NSC) and Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) announced his appointment just last week.

Kizierowski, in his Facebook posting, said he made the decision not to take up the coaching position for personal reasons attributed to Malaysia’s policy regarding the participation of Israeli athletes.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Sunday stripped Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships after the country banned Israeli athletes from participating.

The championships, a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, had been scheduled to be held in Kuching, Sarawak, between July 29 and Aug 4.

“I was offered a very attractive coaching position from the Malaysian Swimming Federation.

“Among other personal reasons, I declined that function due to recent statements made by Malaysian politicians regarding refusal of visa for athletes that are supposed to compete at the World Championships organised by that country. There is no place for that in sport.

“I also want to thank the swimming community in Malaysia that showed me trust and gave me that opportunity,” said the 41-year-old, a former World Championships medallist in the men’s 50m freestyle for Poland.

Kizierowski represented his country in four consecutive Olympics from 1996 before he took up coaching.

He was coaching in Spain before he was offered the coaching position in Malaysia to replace Australian Paul Birmingham Thomas, who left after more than 10 years in charge here.

Asum secretary Mae Chen was also caught by surprise over Kizierowski’s decision not to take up the coaching position.

American Chris Martin, who was also identified to become the new swimming development coach for Malaysia, could be taking over now.

Martin’s presence in Malaysia earlier depended on NSC having extra budget.

“We will have to look for a new coach. Martin will probably be asked to come in as the interim coach but we will have to discuss with NSC first on what are the options.”

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