KUALA LUMPUR: Two athletes will know this weekend if their SEA Games dream is still on.
400m hurdler Mohd Firdaus Musa and 4x400m relay runner Mohd Fairol Nazim are down with foot injuries.
This has compounded the athletics team’s misery as only two weeks ago two women runners – Siti Nor Atiqah Abdul Razak (400m, heel) and Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli (4x100m, hamstring) – were dropped from the SEA Games squad due to injuries as well.
But at least Firdaus and Fairol still have a chance to make it to the Singapore Games, to be held from June 5-16.
Ballard said that Firdaus risked being dropped from the SEA Games “if he fails to impress in the Perak Open”.
“Unfortunately, we cannot replace Firdaus with another hurdler as the dateline for entries for the Games is over,” said Ballard.
“It’s different with Fairol as we can replace him with another athlete ... we have named six runners for the 4x400m relay team.”
The others in the relay team are Arif Zulhilmi Alet, S. Kannanthasan, Mohd Shahmimi Azmi, Mohd Azam Masri and Dinesh Kumar.
At the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games, Malaysia won four gold medals but it was still one of the worst performances ever by the national track and field athletes in the series.
The gold medallists from the Myanmar Games were Mohd Jironi Riduan in the 800m and 1,500m; Nauraj Singh Randhawa in high jump; and Mohd Irfan Shamsuddin in discus.
Jironi has since quit and all hopes are now on Nauraj and Irfan to retain their gold medals in Singapore.
Ballard is also hoping that triple jumper Mohd Hakimi Ismail and 15-year-old hammer thrower Grace Wong Xiu Mei, who are both ranked number one in the region, would be able to strike gold in Singapore as well.
“I also hope to see one or two more surprise gold medals from other athletes,” said Ballard.
by Aftar Singh - The Star