Lee Hup Wei

KUALA LUMPUR: National high jumper Lee Hup Wei will be given a wild card to compete in the Tokyo Olympics next July if no other national athletes qualify on merit by then, said Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) president Datuk SM Muthu.

He said this was based on the 33-year-old high jumper’s current world ranking.

“Hup Wei is ranked 17th in the world, followed by another high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa (46th place); triple jumper Muhammad Hakimi Ismail (57th); and discus thrower Muhammad Irfan Shamsuddin (66th).

“For now, Hup Wei is clearly in the lead but should any other athlete succeed in overtaking him during the qualifying period (until June 29, 2021), we will give the slot to that athlete,” he told Bernama.

Hup Wei is ranked 17th in the world with 1,260 points and has a personal best of 2.29 metres, which he did at the 2019 World Championships to emerge as the first Malaysian athlete to reach the finals since the inception of the competition in 1976.

The 2007 Asian champion and three-time SEA Games gold medallist has also competed in the Olympics twice — in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.

Olympic wild cards are offered to countries whose athletes failed to qualify on merit.

For athletics, Malaysia is usually given two wild cards, one each for the male and female athletes. However, for next year’s edition, Malaysia has received only one wild card.

At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil, Malaysia was represented by Nauraj Singh and Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli (women’s 100m).

The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to Aug 8 next year. – Bernama