PLACES UP FOR GRABS
Choon Sieng, Khairil not assured of Sea Games berths yet
DEVINDER SINGH firstname.lastname@example.org
LO Choon Sieng and Khairil Harith Harun will bid to cement their place in the Sea Games squad when they compete at the Asian 20km Race Walking Championships in Nomi City, Japan tomorrow.
Although the two walkers are streets ahead of the rest in the country, national walks coach Teoh Boon Lim rejected a suggestion that Choon Sieng and Khairil are as good as confirmed for the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games in August.
Boon Lim, a three-time Sea Games walks gold medallist, said there are others in the running for the two spots in the event although he did not identify who.
“There are some state walkers who are also in contention so it has not been decided who will compete at the Sea Games. We will know that after the Malaysian Closed next month,” said Boon Lim before leaving for Japan with his two walkers yesterday.
This year’s walk events for the Sea Games will be held on the track rather than on the road for the first time since 1999 in Bandar Sri Begawan.
“I don’t know why it is being held on the track because it is very different competing on the two surfaces,” said Boon Lim. “Race walking on the road requires a slightly different technique while on the track, it can also get monotonous when you have to do 50 laps.
“It requires a much higher level of concentration and our preparation must also be altered. Also there are not many 20,000m track events for us to compete in before the Sea Games.”
Which is why Boon Lim is not placing too much emphasis on the performances of Choon Sieng, a 2011 Sea Games gold medallist, and Khairil in Nomi City, which is held on the road.
“This is just part of our preparation for the Sea Games and I am not too concerned about the times they post,” added Boon Lim. “Our target is the Sea Games and that is where we want to do well.”
Malaysia have traditionally excelled in the men’s walk events, whether on the road or track, after winning 24 of 35 events since 1969.
However, the gold medals dried up following Choon Sieng’s victory in 2011 with Khairil returning with a bronze from Singapore two years ago after neither managed to reach the podium in Naypyidaw in 2013.