Selangor Journal
National diving athlete Nur Dhabitah Sabri carrying the Jalur Gemilang during the entry of the Malaysian contingent headed by chef-de-mission Datuk Seri Nur Azmi Ahmad at the opening ceremony of the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, on May 12, 2022. — Picture by BERNAMA

SEA Games: Athletics, swimming associations told to buck up

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — The Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) and Malaysia Swimming (MS) have been told to buck up and improve their performances at next year’s Cambodia SEA Games.

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) Selection Committee chairman Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria said the two sports, despite having the most number of events offering gold medals, performed poorly and this resulted in the national contingent finishing a lowly sixth with a haul of 39 golds, 45 silvers and 90 bronzes at the Hanoi SEA Games in May.

To make matters worse, the national contingent has already lost the 12 golds, nine silvers and 24 bronzes won in Hanoi after the Cambodia SEA Games organisers reduced the number of events for the Phnom Penh edition from May 5 to May 17, 2023.

He said Malaysia are also set to lose four gold medals in diving after making a clean sweep of all eight in Hanoi, as well as two each in archery, shooting, artistic gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics.

“These two associations need to take the necessary measures to ensure we will have improved performances… otherwise, they will need to justify to us what is their plan going forward. Realistically, I will say that there’s a chance for athletics to improve its medal haul.

“However, I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel for swimming. So, MS have to put up a proper blueprint or action, so that we will be able to prepare ourselves better for the next (2025) SEA Games, which will be in Thailand.

“I hope that whatever we do today, we will have the desired results in the future, especially when we are hosting the SEA Games in 2027,” Mohamad Norza said after chairing the Selection Committee meeting at Wisma OCM here today.

At the Hanoi SEA Games, the athletics squad returned with just five golds, three silvers and eight bronzes out of the 47 golds offered, or 10.64 per cent, while swimming only won one gold, four silvers and two bronzes from the 40 golds at stake, or just 2.5 per cent.

At the Cambodia Games, athletics and swimming will again be crucial to Malaysia’s hopes of rising up the medal standings as there will be 47 and 39 gold medals up for grabs in these two sports respectively from the overall total of 608 events in 37 sports.

Meanwhile, National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail said MS must take new and unconventional approaches to develop swimmers, including collaborating with clubs, rather than depending solely on state associations.

“Many state associations, as we know, do not function as they should. So, perhaps it is time MS used a different approach by using clubs and creating a competitive culture among clubs and states as well as providing aid directly to clubs,” he said.

On the lack of development in diving, which resulted in many events in the Malaysia Games (Sukma) being cancelled due to a lack of a minimum number of participants, Ahmad Shapawi said diving needs special attention as the sport is highly technical.

“We need a different approach as well, like what we did in 1998. Through the Jaya 98 Programme, we created training centres with skilled foreign coaches because, at that time, we did not have the capability (to produce world-class divers).

“As a result of the programme, we produced so many local divers, some became coaches in the state teams. We must take an approach that involves these coaches directly in the programme to overcome the shortage of divers… this is something we are discussing with MS,” he added.

However, Ahmad Shapawi said the issue also needed commitment from everyone, especially the states to provide the necessary basic requirements such as a dry gym, diving pool and platforms to develop grassroots-level divers.

— Bernama

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