|Asum says they did not overlook independent swimmer Chui Lai Kwan. The are adamant that rules and regulations for qualifying must be adhered to.|
On Friday, Asum’s long-serving secretary Edwin Chong said that they did not overlook Lai Kwan for the World Championships in Barcelona, which ended on Aug 4.
It was just that they could not accommodate the Sabahan because of “rules and and principles”.
Asum’s rules clearly stated that the Malaysia Open in May was the final qualifying platform for all swimmers – either national or independent – and the 23-year-old Lai Kwan only made the cut at the Singapore National Championships a month later in June.
She clocked 26.28s to beat the B qualifying mark of 26.29s in the women’s 50m freestyle and it was well within the qualifying period of July 1, set by the world governing body Fina (International Swimming Federation).
Lai Kwan, a national record holder of three events, hoped that the national body would support athletes and be more flexible, especially when they qualify on merit.
Edwin said Lai Kwan could have competed in the world meet if she had fulfilled two criteria.
“I’m a stickler when it comes to discipline and procedures. During the team manager’s meeting before the Malaysia Open, we made it very clear that it was the last tournament for swimmers to qualify for the world meet. All the key people knew about it,” said Edwin.
“Secondly, all requests should come from our state affiliates. Lai Kwan is from Sabah but the association have been dissolved since January because of registration issues. So, we received nothing from them.
“In cases like this, I know that the swimmers are the innocent party and, in fact, we allowed several juniors from Sabah to compete through application from the Sabah Sports Council (SSC). The proper process must be adhered to.”
Edwin said that they always try to be fair to all athletes. In fact, last year, they supported independent swimmer Heidi Gan, which led to her stunning qualification at the London Olympic Games.
He advised swimmers to find out the rules and cut-off marks earlier so that they would not be left frustrated.
“The door is still open for Lai Kwan and others like her to qualify for the next major event – the Commonwealth Games (2014) – but they have to go by the book,” said Edwin.
“We will recommend the best athletes if their qualification is justified and it is then up to the OCM (Olympic Council of Malaysia) selection committee to have the final say. As for other Fina-sanctioned meets, Asum will use their discretion ... we’ll try to be fair to all.”