By Tony Mariadass
What next for the experienced coaches?
The Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) have taken the bold move to remove old and experienced athletics coaches in their revamp of the coaching set up in preparation for the 2017 Kuala Lumpur Sea Games.
While the appointment of Bukit Jalil Sports School and sports commentator, Zainal Abas as head coach for the Sea Games athletics programme came as a surprise, but it was generally a welcome move by the athletics fraternity.
But in MAF’s process to revamp their coaching staff some of the experienced coaches have been left out.
And among them are V. Subramaniam, S. Jayabalan, S. Muthiah, A. Tripadi whose contracts with the National Sports Council (NSC) were not renewed at the end of August while another two Yu Fang and Jagjit Singh will see their contracts ending at the end of December.
MAF president Datuk Karim Ibrahim confirmed the non-renewal of the six coaches and said new coaches have already been identified, discussed at the joint meeting with NSC and contracts offered for a two-year term under the KL SEA Games project in collaboration with NSC.
“The coaches performance especially at the Singapore Sea Games was reviewed including their Key Performance Index (KPI) and decided that we need to make changes and fresh faces were needed,” said Karim.
“Some of these coaches have been in the system from a minimum of five years to 20 years. When results are not forthcoming, then drastic measures have to been taken. It may not be a popular decision, but sometimes we have to put our sentiments will have to be put aside and think professionally with the future in mind.”
When asked what will happen to these coaches who are very experienced, produced top athletes and even won medals for the nation themselves with the likes of walkers Subramaniam, Yu Fang and Jagjit, middle distance runner Muthiah while Tripadi and Jayabalan have nurtured many athletes to become champions, Karim said MAF will assist them.
“There was one coach who wanted to return to his state and coach in the state programme and we made strong recommendations. Any others left out who want to join their states programmes, we will assist.
“Besides these coaches if they return to their states and can develop champions for the future, we will consider them back again.
“Anyway case, even the current coaches have KPIs and if they do not perform they will be replaced.”
Asked why MAF did not use these vastly experienced coaches m for their own development programme, Karim said that some of the coaches wanted to retire while other had their own plans.
But one coach – Subramaniam - who had requested an extension of his contract for another three months to NSC and MAF did not get any response.
Subramaniam to earn some income is now running a food stall at a foodcourt in Ampang.
Indeed a sad scene for Subramaniam who has won six gold medals and five silvers in five Sea Games, qualified for the 1980 Moscow Olympics Games, but had to skip it because of the boycott by Malaysia, in 1978 Bangkok Asian Games won the silver medal and 1982 Games finishing fourth and two bronze medals from the Asian Track and Field in 1979 and 1981 and named Selangor Sportsman for two consecutive years – 1978 and 1979 – and was also named the National Sportsman of the Year in 1978.
In the meantime new coaches have been appointed and awaiting their contracts from NSC.
The team of coaches is headed by Bukit Jalil Sports School teacher and sports commentator, Zainal Abas, who has eleven coaches under him.
Among them include four foreigners – Gu Yuan, Franstisek Petrovic, Victor Sotnikov and Alim Akhmejanov, who have been coaching in Malaysia for some time now.
Among the fresh faces are former 800m champion Josephine Mary, who represented the nation in six Sea Games (1983 – 1993), three Asian Track and Field (ATF) championships (1987-1991) and two Asian Games 1986-1990) and still holds the 800m national record set at the Seoul Asian Games in 1986 where she won the bronze medal in a time of 2:07.44.
Others include former national walker Lim Teoh Boon and 400m runner Hamberi Mahat.
MAF is also waiting NSC approval to hire a Jamacian, Leo Almando Brown for sprints and hurdles and Kenyan Samuel Kipsang Rono for middle and long distance.
“Both are highly qualified coaches MAF had shortlisted after vetting many foreign applications. They came with the recommendation of their respective nation’s athletics federation’s presidents,” said Karim.
Leo has trained top class athletes in Jamaica and also coached in the Caribbean Islands, Canada, Mexico, North America and European countries.
Kipsang Rono who has been training the Kenyan national athletes since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Games.
“We are embarking on revamped path to bring results starting with the Sea Games in Kuala Lumpur, we hope everyone understands that and supports us.
“We cannot just be continuing with our old ways. We have to make changes if things are not going right.”
MAF have also named 57 athletes – 24 men and 23 women – for the KL SEA Games first phase from Sept 2015 to Sept 2016.
Forty-six gold medals were up for grabs in track and field events in Singapore, but Malaysia only returned with three golds, two silvers and nine bronzes.
All three golds came in the men’s field events – high jump (Nauraj Singh Randhawa), discus (Mohd Irfan Shamsuddin) and triple jump (Muhammad Hakimi Ismail - in new Games record).
It was Malaysia’s worst-ever performance in the history of the Games.
At the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games, Malaysia won four gold medals.
2017 Sea Games Athletics Project (1st phase Sept 2015 – Sept 2016)
Head coach: Zainal Abas
1. Gu Yuan (hammer throw )2. Frantisek Petrovic (discus) 3. Victor Petrovic (triple jump) 4. Alim Akhmejanov (high jump) 5. Hamberi Mahat (400m men/relay) 6. Entheran Subramaniam (middle/long distance)) 6. Teh Weng Chang (pole vault) 7. Shahadan Jamaluddin (hurdles) 8. Balamurugan Maniam (short sprints) 9. Josephine Mary Singarayar (400m women/relay) 10. Lim Teoh Boon (walk)
1. Adi Aliffuddin Hussin 2. Ahmad Luth Hamizan 3. G Aravin Thevarr 4. Abdrul Hisyam Abdul Manap 5. K. Dinesh 6. Harith Ammar Mohd Sobri 7. Iskandar Alwi 8. Jackei Wong Siew Cheer 9. Johathan Nyepa 10 M. Kesavan 11. Mohamad Arif Zulhilmi Alet 12. Mohamad Shamrin Mohd Aris 13. Mohd Izzuddin Yahaya 14. Mohd Shamimi Azmi 15. Muhaad Firdaus Musa 16. Muhammad Azam Masri 17. Muhammad Hakimi Ismail 18. Muhammad Irfan Shamsuddin 19. Muhammad Khairul Harith Harun 20. Muhammed Ashraff Saiou Rahman 21. Muhd Ajmal Aiman Mat Hassan 22. Nauraj Singh Randhawa 23. Nixson Kennedy 24. Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian 25 Russel Alexander Nasir Taib
1. Bibi Nuraishah Ishak 2. Chuah Yu Tian 3. Elena Goh Ling Yin 4. Fatin Faqihah Mohd Yusof 5. Grace Wong Xiu Mei 6. Kirthana Ramasamy 7. Komalam Shally Selvaretnam 8. Ku Munirah Ku Zamzuri 9. Noor Amira Mohamad Nafiah 10. Nor Shahidatun Nadia Mohd Zuki 11. Norris Foo 12. Nur Fatin Abidah Suharman 13. Nurfazira Jalaludin 14. Nurul Faizah Asma Mazlan 15. Raja Nursheena Raja Azhar 16. Saidatul Izzati Suhaimi 17. Savinder Kau Joginder Singh 18. Shereen Samson Vallabouy 19. Siti Fatima Mohamad 20 Yap Jeng Tzan 21. Yap Sean Yee 22. Zaimah Atifah Zainuddin