PETALING JAYA: The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) has hailed the timely inclusion of swimming as one of the six core sports to be improved urgently under new national budget announcement.
Its secretary-general Edwin Chong revealed that the standard of our national swimmers have declined so severely that Malaysia is even in danger of not winning a single gold when the country hosts the 2017 SEA Games.
But now, he believes that by having enough resources, it will be able to revive Malaysian swimming’s glory days - just as how they enjoyed in the 90s.
“I would really like to thank the minister for including swimming as one of the six sports in the first phase, it’s just timely” said Edwin.
“We have sat down for long meetings with YB Khairy (Jamaluddin) during the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Incheon Asian Games recently, and he has assured us financial backing is on the way.
“Asum is really in dire need of financial assistance. The decline of our swimmers have also resulted in less allocation, hence there is nothing much we can do about.
“We were once a dominant force in South East Asia in the 90s, then we have a huge pool of great swimmers such as Lim Keng Liat, Elvin Chia, Anthony Ang, Allen Ong and Siow Yi Ting.
“There was at least a reliable specialist in each of the discipline. We have Keng Liat for backstroke, Elvin for breaststroke, ‘butterfly king’ Anthony and Allen as our freestyle specialist.
“But now, we struggle even in the SEA region itself. If the situation doesn’t improve, I’m afraid we won’t be able to challenge for even one gold from a total of 38 contested in 2017 SEA Games. That’s how bad it is.”
Edwin has also stressed on the importance of continuing sending our swimmers to study and train in the United States, as well as roping more foreign coaches to be placed in all the states.
“With enough funding, we may be able to send our swimmers to the States again just like those days,” explained Edwin.
“Singapore is actually doing what we have done in the past, and now they are able to groom a world class swimmer in Joseph Schooling who won the gold (in 100m butterfly) in Incheon recently.
“Didn’t we once had Keng Liat, who trains in the States, as the Asian Games gold medallist too when he won (100m backstroke) in 1998 Bangkok. Elvin and Yi Ting were among those who also trained in US.
“We will also need to bring in more foreign coaches and place them in the states to oversee the swimming programme and identify talents there. Singapore currently have a strength of 10 foreign experts in its coaching staff.
“We need the states to be the national squad feeder, unlike the present where all are concentrated only in national centralised training.
“It’s not that the states do not have their development programme at the moment, but their goals are just for the sake of Sukma, and nothing beyond that.”
|Lim Keng Liat was one of Malaysia's best swimmers, winning Asiad gold in the backstroke event in Bangkok in 1998. - Filepic|