BY AFTAR SINGH
PUTRAJAYA: Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is not a happy man.
The Malaysian contingent surpassed their 40-gold target at the Myanmar SEA Games in December, but there is no denying the decline in the standard of various sports.
“Although we surpassed the 40-gold medal target (by winning 43 golds), we finished fifth overall among 11 countries,” said Khairy after a post-mortem meeting attended by the National Sports Council (NSC) and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) on Thursday.
“I am greatly concerned about the decline in sports that we used to dominate in the SEA Games.
“We used to win golds in athletics, swimming, badminton and sepaktakraw. But today, we are struggling to win medals in these sports.
“We need strategic intervention to help improve the standard of these sports for the 2017 SEA Games, which we will be hosting.”
He pointed out that even Vietnam did better than Malaysia in swimming, which had 32 gold medals up for grabs. Vietnam bagged five golds while Malaysia only managed to win four.
“ASUM (Amateur Swimming Association of Malaysia) are banking on the same old swimmers like Daniel Bego, Khoo Cai Lin and Christina Loh to win the medals,” said Khairy.
“We need to look for a calibre foreign coach to help improve the standard of the swimmers.”
He also took athletics to task, saying that although the back-up athletes did well to improve their personal best to win medals, they are still lagging behind neighbours Thailand.
“MAF (Malaysian Athletic Federation) need to hire a good technical director who can help local coaches produce better athletes,” he said.
“I’m also worried about the standard of badminton as the shuttlers struggled to do well at the SEA Games.”
As for sepaktakraw, Khairy believes that it needs a total revamp and that the association should work closely with the NSC to improve their fortunes.
He also questioned fringe sports that have not been delivering medals for many years.
“There are some sports like volleyball, table tennis, waterpolo and women’s football that have not done well for the last 15 years. The time has come for them to start cracking and find ways to improve their standard,” he said.