SA chief: Amirudin not a certainty for SEA Games' 100m
Sixteen months ago, national sprinter Amirudin Jamal returned home from the Myanmar South-east Asia (SEA) Games with a 100m bronze medal in his bag.
The 28-year-old is determined to do even better at the 28th SEA Games, which will be held in Singapore from June 5 to 16, after meeting the 10.55-sec qualifying mark to earn one of the two berths each nation is allowed in the blue riband race.
But, if Singapore Athletics (SA) president Tang Weng Fei has his way, Amirudin will not be in the mix for the coveted event at the National Stadium in two months' time.
Tang says Amirudin has not shown medal-winning form recently.
The SA executive committee convened last night to pore over results submitted by athletes in various events over the last 12 months as they work towards submitting their final nominations to the Singapore National Olympic Council.
With Calvin Kang the only other Singaporean to have met the 100m qualifying time - he clocked a 10.48 at the Singapore Open Track and Field Championships on Saturday - The New Paper asked Tang yesterday if the 24-year-old and Amirudin's nomination for the 100m event is a cut and dried issue.
But the oil trader, who was in Myanmar on a business trip, said: "I don't think so.
"Yes, Amirudin and Calvin are the only two runners to have met the mark, but I think we also have to look at recent form and performance. We cannot be so rigid about this.
"My opinion is we have to be very strong.
"Of course, Amirudin and maybe the media will ask why have a window of one year (to meet the qualifying time)?
"But when you can't qualify for the final of the Singapore Open..."
Amirudin clocked 10.55 at a meet in Perlis, Malaysia, last November but could manage only a 10.69 in the semi-finals at the Singapore Open and did not qualify for the final.
Tang suggested that Elfi Mustapa, who clocked 10.58 twice on Saturday, was in better form than Amirudin.
The 61-year-old former national hurdler added: "I will let the training and selection committee evaluate the times and make their nominations and, when they submit the list to me, I will have a look. But I have already told them of my opinion."
Naturally, Amirudin was not thrilled at Tang's assessment.
"I understand his concern, but I cannot say I'm not upset and, of course, it hurts," said the sprinter, whose personal best is 10.46.
"First and foremost, I met the qualifying mark in the qualifying window. That's clear-cut.
"Secondly, my times are dropping. I was running a 10.8 in Australia (last month) and, last Saturday, in just my third big race (since beginning preparations after the Perlis meet), I clocked a 10.69.
"I'd be concerned if I wasn't making any progress.
"In the end, it's not about how I performed at the Singapore Open, but how I do at the SEA Games."
Together with his coach, former Malaysian sprinter Azmi Ibrahim, Amirudin said they have a training plan that would see him reach top form in June, in a bid to challenge Thai speed demon and defending champion Jirapong Meenapra, whose personal best of 10.31 makes him a hot favourite in the 100m.
"Of course, the (current) times don't look good," said Amirudin.
"But my coach and I took a gamble in trying to get me to peak right at the SEA Games.
"We felt that's the only way I can even be in contention for a medal.
"The important thing is I have a plan.
"And to me, at the end of the day, it's about the SEA Games. So that's what I'm working towards."