KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — It is a tough row to hoe, but Taekwondo Malaysia (TM) is not stopping its efforts towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifications.
The last time Malaysia had representatives at the Olympic stage was 12 years ago, when Elaine Teo and Che Chew Chan featured in the women’s under 57 kg and above 67 kg categories at the 2008 Beijing Games.
None of the national exponents managed to qualify for the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Games, while the chances for Tokyo also looked slim as only the top six in the world ranking and finalists at the Asian Qualification Tournament (of each category) will earn the berth to Tokyo.
TM technical director, R. Dhanaraj said with the Olympics now postponed to July next year, it provides TM with plenty of time to prepare and expose national kyorugi (sparring) athletes at higher levels in order to rub shoulders against the best exponents.
Dhanaraj however, admitted that the association is in dark at the moment on the plans for the upcoming months, after the recent Executive Board and Coaching Committee meetings were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order (MCO).
“It is a very difficult task (to qualify for Olympics), nevertheless we will keep trying. With the Olympics now postponed to July 2021, we have more time to train our athletes, who are young, to be able to fight at high level competitions.
“However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, almost all competitions and training programmes are halted. We cannot decide on the next step as the situation has yet settle down for us to discuss plans in the upcoming meetings,” he told Bernama when contacted.
The Asian Qualification Tournament, originally scheduled from April 10 to 12 in Amman, Jordan was earlier postponed to June 5-7, while the 2020 Asian Championships scheduled at Beirut, Lebanon from May 11-15, was also put off.
World Taekwondo on Tuesday said the 2021 World Championships scheduled to be held in Wuxi, China in May next year, will also need to be postponed after the rescheduling of Olympics to July next year. — Bernama