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Common sense prevails over marathon saga

As published in Mailsport today

KUALA LUMPUR — Fireworks were expected but the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) took an easy way out to avoid a confrontation. 

Instead of going head-to-head with the Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF) over the Malaysia International Marathon (MIM) in Penang on May 23-24, the OCM board yesterday decided to rename the event to avoid having to ask sanctions from the national body. 

The about turn is a slap in the face for OCM vice president Rear Admiral (rtd) Datuk Danyal Balagopal, one of the main men behind MIM, who had declared during last week’s launch: “ We do not need MAF’s  sanction. We are OCM ... we can do whatever we want.” 

MAF argued OCM had no right to use the words “International Marathon” without the national body’s sanction. 

A source privy to the Board meeting in OCM revealed there was a heated debate over the issue during the  three-hour long meeting at Wisma OCM. 

“Those who were pushing for MIM insisted they had sorted things out with the former MAF office bearers so they didn’t want to approach MAF again. “Various other allegations were made about officials within OCM as well,”  said the source. 

But one thing was clear, the board concluded a national body must be involved if an event was termed an international or national event. 

“We understand where MAF is coming from. OCM never wanted a confrontation,” said OCM president Tunku Imran Jaafar. 

“Marathon belong to athletics while when the word Malaysia is used, it has to be under the national body. Furthermore, when it is an international event, the respective national body should be involved too. 

“We have not finalised the new identity for the MIM. There needs to be further discussion with the state. We will leave it to Penang AAA to liaise with MAF should a sanction still be needed. 

OCM suggested the event could be renamed the Tuanku Abdul Halim Bridge Run to localise it, hence enabling Penang Amateur Athletics Association (AAA) to be the guardians of the race. 

Danyal conceded it was a blow as question marks surround the run. 

 “Our intentions were to take this race all over Malaysia but we need to review that,” he said. 

“Anyway, the show will go on with some tweaks. We could have a carnival like atmosphere to draw crowd. 

“Penang AAA has full authority to carry on with the run as it has the right to promote the sport within the state.” he added.

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