MAF’s plan to send official instead of coach to Olympics raises eyebrows

The Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF) has raised eyebrows by planning to send an official instead of a coach to accompany high jumper Lee Hup Wei to the Tokyo Olympics.

Lee’s coach, Aleksandar Gasparyan, is part of a “long list” that was submitted by MAF to the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM). However, Twentytwo13 was informed that MAF had held talks with OCM and NSC as the national body intended to send an official instead of Gasparyan.

It is understood NSC and OCM officials were taken aback by the request and had tried to convince MAF to send the coach. It remains unclear why MAF would want to take such a step but those within the athletics circle fear it may have something to do with the upcoming elections in 2022.

Coaches usually follow the athletes to such mega-events but can be replaced by an official if the coach is unable to make it due to health, visa, or personal issues.

Lee had apparently raised this matter with MAF and NSC, hoping his coach would follow him to the Summer Games.

NSC athletes division director Jefri Ngadirin confirmed meeting Lee “a week ago” regarding this.

Jefri explained that the deadline to submit the final list for the Olympics is on June 30. The national athletes, including Lee, will participate in the final Olympic qualifying event – the Qosanov Memorial Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 19-20.

“OCM’s selection committee must decide on who should go,” said Jefri.

“The most important person besides the athlete is the coach. I strongly believe that.”

Lee, ranked 19th in the world, had represented the nation at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.

He is eager to equal the qualifying mark of 2.33m in Kazakstan. However, even if he misses the cut on merit, Lee will still be able to compete in Tokyo – which could be his final Olympics – based on his world ranking.