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'Golden era' of Malaysian athletics thanks to foreign coaches?

An Australian played an instrumental role in assisting Lee Hup Wei (left) and Navraj Singh Randhwa win the high jump SEA Games silver and gold medals respectively. — Star Online
Expect the 'local v foreign coach' debate to be reignited following the success of our athletics team at the just concluded Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

The athletics squad scored eight gold medals in track and field events. The eight winners (and coaches) are:

1. Hammer thrower Jackie Wong (Gu Yuan - China) 
2. Hammer thrower Grace Wong (Gu Yuan - China)
3. High jumper Navraj Singh Randhawa (Alex Stewart - Australia)
4. Sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan (Mohd Poad Mohd Kassim - MALAYSIA)
5. Hurdler Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian (Jan Klaus Erasmus May - Germany)
6. Walker Elena Goh (Teoh Boon Lim - MALAYSIA)
7. Discus thrower Irfan Shamsuddin (Fero Petrovic - Slovakia)
8. Triple jumper Mohd Hakimi Ismail (Viktor Sotnikov - Russia) 

From the list above, only two of the winning coaches are locals.

In fact, silver medalist high jumper Lee Hup Wei, a former Asian champion, forked out his own money to train under Stewart. 

Not to undermine our local coaches, perhaps it is time for them to learn from these experts. 

Gu Yuan, for instance, said she was willing to visit every state right after the regional Games to assist the local coaches and help them unearth talents.


Gu Yuan plans to assist coaches at the states to help unearth new talents. — Facebook 
The local coaches should, rightfully, see this as an opportunity to learn from the former world champion and not see her as a threat.

There will be questions raised over the performance of the other local coaches within the national stable and their contributions thus far. That, however, can only be answered by the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF).

Speaking about MAF, the national body has yet to specify sprinter S. Komalam Shally's alleged disciplinary problem had that resulted her being axed from the women's 4x100m event just days before KL2017. 

Sprinter Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli had earlier said her team, minus Komalam, was "not a problem".

Instead, Zaidatul, Zaid Fathin Faqihah Mohd Yusof, Siti Fatima Mohamad and Azreen Nabila Alias finished last in their race — with a time of 45.39s.

Vietnam won the race with a new SEA Games record of 43.88s. Thailand clocked 44.62s to take silver while the Philippines came in third with 44.81s.

For the record, the women's quartet of Shereen Samson Vallabouy, Siti Fatima Mohammad, Komalam and Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli clocked 45.19s at the Thailand Open in Bangkok on June 15, en route to erasing the national record of 45.32s set at the 2016 Singapore Open.

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