Sunday July 1, 2012
Malaysian swimmers fail to make Olympics due to silly system
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: The Olympic dream is over for national swimmers Khoo Cai Lin, Siow Yi Ting, Christina Loh, Chui Lai Kwan, Yap See Tuan and Kevin Yeap.
None of them made the cut when FINA, the governing body for aquatics, released the list of swimmers for the London Olympics for each of the 26 individual events.
FINA only accepted the top-six ranked swimmers who got in through the Olympic selection time criteria, thus dashing the hopes of the six Malaysians who had dipped under the qualifying marks in their respective events.
Only those who made it under the Olympic qualifying time criteria were guaranteed a place in London as FINA had restricted the field to 900 swimmers under orders from the International Olympic Council.
It will only be the second time that Malaysia will not have any swimmers in the Olympics.
Malaysia’s first Olympic outing was Melbourne 1956 and the only time there was no representation in swimming was in Mexico 1968.
It is a tough selection process compared to previous Olympics where participation would have been guaranteed as long as the swimmers beat the B timings.
Ironically, a country can have a wildcard entry for London if none of the swimmers had made the qualifying times as long as they had participated at the World Championships in Shanghai last year.
Swimming coach Paul Birmingham Thomas took a swipe at FINA saying: “There were 439 swimmers who made it under the Olympic qualifying time criteria, which is the A time qualifiers.
FINA also had to reserve 150 places for the wildcard swimmers and slots for the six relay races (16 countries in each relay event).
“There’s not much left for the rest under the Olympic selection time criteria.
“We also couldn’t apply for wildcards as this wasn’t allowed as we had swimmers who already bettered the Olympic qualifying standards in the first place.
“This is ludicrous as we are deemed not good enough to join the top ranked swimmers at the Olympics while those from countries ranked at the bottom make it.
“I feel sorry for all the swimmers out there who have trained so hard.
“I’m sure they are disappointed with the system,” said the Australian coach, who took five Malaysian swimmers to Beijing four years ago.
Only five swimmers from South-East Asia made the cut this time and top of the list is Singapore butterfly specialist Joseph Schooling, who is the only one to beat the Olympic qualifying time.
Joseph met the mark in the 200m butterfly at the Indonesia SEA Games last year, a feat that saw him named as his country’s Sportsman of the Year.
The others who got in under the Olympic selection time are Singapore’s Tao Li (women’s 100m butterfly and 100m backstroke), Indonesia’s Gede Siman Sudartawa (men’s 100m backstroke), Thailand’s Ketin Nuttapong (200m breaststroke) and Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Anh Vien (women’s 200m backstroke).
Malaysia will, however, still have a big representation in aquatics.
They will be sending their biggest group of eight divers, who qualified on merit (three men and five women), and will have an interest in open water swimming for the first time through double SEA Games gold medallist Heidi Gan.
The male divers are Bryan Nickson Lomas, Huang Qiang and Yeoh Ken Nee.
Pandelela Rinong, who will carry the Malaysian flag at the opening ceremony on Aug 27, leads the women’s challenge with Leong Mun Yee, Wendy Ng Yan Yee, Cheong Jun Hoong and Traisy Vivien.