Delays at Johor athletics meet frustrates Olympian, organiser says it’s due to ‘overwhelming’ response

An Olympian is unimpressed by the delays and the management of the Johor Open athletics championship at the Mt Austin Stadium in Johor Bahru this morning.

The 5,000m women’s final, scheduled at 7.30am, was supposed to kick-start the two-day meet.

“But it started after 8am. And because of that, all the events are now delayed by about an hour,” said former national hurdler and Malaysia Olympians Association president, Noraseela Khalid.

“This is basic. Events are supposed to start on time to ensure the athletes can prepare, based on the schedule given out by the organisers.”

Noraseela, who represented Malaysia at the 2012 London Olympics, is in Johor as she now coaches the Sarawak athletics team.

“Even the managers’ meeting yesterday was delayed. I left the meeting after finding out that the organisers didn’t have the start list. It’s a waste of my, and everyone else’s time.”

She also pointed out that the delays would mean that more athletes would be competing under the scorching sun.

“There are no shades or umbrellas provided for the athletes and technical officials, especially at the jumps and throws area. This is not conducive at all. It’s really hot right now.”

Noraseela said it was good that the Johor Athletics Association decided to organise the meet, as it was a great platform for athletes – especially those in the Under-17 and Under-12 categories – to compete and rate their performances following the various lockdowns imposed since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m glad they are organising this event. This event is important for the athletes and the coaches. But it’s 2022. We can’t even get the basics right. Deadlines are supposed to be observed and the organisers can’t be accepting new entries and making changes at the eleventh hour.

“Athletes and coaches are travelling all the way from Sabah and Sarawak. They deserve a well-organised meet.”

Johor Athletics Association secretary, V. Mathivanan, said the competition had attracted over 1,000 participants from all ages.

“It was unexpected. We have 1,200 participants in this meet. As such, some changes had to be made,” said Mathivanan.

He said the deadline for registration was May 20, but entries were still coming in.

“We are trying to entertain, and accommodate everyone. We can’t be too rigid as we don’t want to deny the athletes the chance to compete.

“Of course, some will be happy, and some won’t. That’s human nature, I guess. But I must stress that we have events for the Under-12 and Under-17 categories. We have 335 runners in our 100m event for all six categories (men’s, women’s, Under-17 boys and girls, and Under-12 boys and girls).

“We admit there were some delays, and we apologise for that,” he added.