Athlete with failing eyesight gets leg-up from sports council

R Krithana has 60% vision in both eyes. (S Thinakaran pic)

PETALING JAYA: The National Sports Council (NSC) has gone to the aid of a women’s triple jump champion whose eyesight has been on the decline for the past three years, providing medical care in a bid to arrest any further deterioration of her condition.

National Sports Institute consultant doctor Dr Ramlan Aziz said R Krithana, 23, told him she presently has 60% vision in both eyes.

Ramlan began evaluating Krithana’s condition on Monday as part of a process by NSC to determine whether she should continue her career as an able-bodied athlete or switch categories to para-athlete.

“My role is to ascertain the nature of her vision problem, with a view towards arresting the deteriorating eyesight if possible, for the sake of her future.

Dr Ramlan Aziz says what matters is Krithana’s life, not her athletics career.

“Sports is secondary, life comes first,” he said. “Now, it is not about whether she competes as an able-bodied athlete or a para-athlete.”

He added that Krithana would see an ophthalmologist soon, after which a plan would be made to address her condition.

He said her condition might not have reached this stage if corrective measures were taken earlier.

NSC’s athletes’ division director Jefri Ngadirin said yesterday that Krithana wished to continue competing in the able-bodied category.

This followed talk of a move to shift her to the para-athletes division due to her deteriorating eyesight.

However, Perak Amateur Athletics Association president Karim Ibrahim said Krithana should be given extensive medical assistance. He said the priority should be on improving her eyesight, not winning medals in Paralympic competitions.

Krithana, from Bagan Serai, had experienced a drop in vision since 2017 which caused her to finish seventh in last year’s SEA Games in the Philippines. She was unable to see the jumping board and had several foul jumps.

She finished fifth in last year’s Asian Championships in Doha, leaping 13.33m. She has a personal best of 13.48m, achieved in Kazakhstan in June 2017.

After the SEA Games, a Paralympics coach took her to be assessed by a consultant optometrist and a Paralympic classifier. However, she was forced to return home in January before receiving her results as her father was ill.

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