Association to blame for losing elite status, says Ankrom in parting shot

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 April, 2007, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association's refusal to include long jumper Terry Tsui Yun-yung in the Asian Games squad probably cost the sport its elite status, outgoing coach Kevin Ankrom claimed yesterday.

Ankrom said he had asked the HKAAA to select Tsui for the games in Doha last December but he was not among the squad that needed a high-ranking finish to support athletics' claim to retain its government funding and Sports Institute status.

Ankrom claims Tsui would have made the final at the Asian Games and saved the sport from the chopping block. He said the selection process was farcical because the HKAAA demanded the qualification process end in July and that some of the qualification standards were set unrealistically high. 'You have to get the athletes to peak for the meet, but the HKAAA said the athletes had to achieve qualification in July,' said Ankrom, who this week called for the clubs to rebel against the HKAAA and effect change.

'I said if you want to do it your way, then fair enough. But you can't peak in July for a major games that's going to take place in December.

'Terry Tsui certainly should have been in the squad, but I didn't plan for him to jump 7.8 metres in July, I planned for him to jump 7.8m in Doha.

'He would have easily jumped 7.40m or 7.60m in Doha, which would have seen him make the final, and that would have secured us enough points to keep our elite status. To qualify for the final he needed to jump only 7.20m. I asked the HKAAA to include him in the Doha squad but they refused.'

Anita Yiu Soo-han, outgoing executive director of the HKAAA, said the 22-year-old Tsui didn't make the Doha squad as he failed to reach the qualifying standard of 7.57 metres.

'We use IAAF and other international athletic standards for our qualification marks, and Tsui didn't reach that mark,' Yiu said.

The Hong Kong record of 7.49m was set by Chan Ka-chiu in Jakarta in September 1986. The rapidly improving Tsui set his personal best of 7.41m at the end of last year.

Ankrom said that some of the standards asked for were unrealistic and that Tsui would have had to break the Hong Kong record just to qualify.

'If you look back at previous Asian Games, the mark of 7.20m has been fairly consistent to make the final. Why then set the qualifying mark at 7.57m?'

Ankrom leaves next week for New Zealand, where he will become the country's high-performance director.