PLACES UP FOR GRABS

Choon Sieng, Khairil not as­sured of Sea Games berths yet

New Straits Times - - Sport -

DEVINDER SINGH devinder@nst.com.my

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.

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