Say What

Published: Thursday December 5, 2013 MYT 7:30:00 AM
Updated: Thursday December 5, 2013 MYT 3:50:52 PM

A year of hits and (more) misses

"There were some high points in Malaysian sports for 2013 but also quite a few 'painful' moments as well as we look forward to next year hoping for the best. - AP

"There were some high points in Malaysian sports for 2013 but also quite a few 'painful' moments as well as we look forward to next year hoping for the best. - AP

I CANNOT believe that the year is almost coming to end.

For me, it has surely flown by – fast and furious. There are fond memories and, ah well, not so nice ones too. But, I thank God for all that I’ve experienced and learnt.

How has it been for Malaysian sports? Generally, the curtain will come down this year on the sports scene with the SEA Games in Myanmar from Dec 11-22.

If Malaysia reaches its modest 40-gold medal target, can we consider it to be a great year for Malaysian sport?

Not really – unless, new stars are unearthed or new barriers are broken. Or unless someone breaks former sprinter Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan’s record of 20.92 in the 200m – set 45 years ago!

Honestly, two outstanding athletes – badminton king Lee Chong Wei and squash queen Nicol David – have done great justice for Malaysian sport this year by winning so many titles.

Sadly, world No. 1 Chong Wei will be remembered for missing out on a chance to become the country’s first badminton world champion after limping out with cramps against his nemesis Lin Dan of China in the final in Guangzhou in August.

It is sad too that Nicol lost out on winning her eighth world title because Women’s Squash Association (WSA) decided not to host the World Open due to financial constraints.

There were other pockets of success too this year – with cycling, archery, diving, motor racing, shooting and the Paralympics taking the cake.

I remember Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president Datuk Naim Mohd making his thanksgiving speech after kicking off a long-awaited nationwide cycling programme in schools.

Now, here is a man who knows the importance of development programme.

While many officials have been like empty gongs making lots of noises, Naim has indeed walked the talk.

And then, who can forget the entrance of the vibrant and articulate Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin into the sports scene this year.

The Harvard graduate has brought with him fresh ideas and innovative plans to rejuvenate Malaysian sport.

To me, his emphasis on Sports Science for athletes at all levels is the highlight.

It is learnt that some of his staff at the Ministry have even lost weight (which is good) trying to catch up with him and some are really excited.

Some “old folks” in the sports fraternity, however, are still resistant and cautious.

This year has also seen an end for some officials and coaches, including the likes of national football coach Datuk K. Rajagopal and badminton coach Paulus Firman.

The contract of Rajagopal, who led the national team to the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, has not been extended. Go figure.

Paulus chose to leave the national badminton set-up citing family problems back in Indonesia. But is that the only reason for his sudden departure – after just 10 months?

There have been so many changes in the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) that it’s really hard trying to keep up with who’s calling the shots.

First, the exco was scrapped under a new structure. Then, the exco was reinstated.

First, there was Tan Aik Mong as the Talent Management Group (TMG) director but national singles coach Rashid Sidek left. Then, Aik Mong disappeared after 18 days and Rashid returned.

First, Tan Kim Her and Razif Sidek were the assessors – to monitor the national team – but now they are part-timers.

Kim Her is back as a coach with Pang Cheh Chang while Razif trains independent shuttlers outside of BAM.

Now, who calls the shot – Kim Her or Cheh Chang in the men’s doubles? Or do the coaches even have the power to run the show? Where is the full-time national coaching director that we’ve all been waiting for?

Is that why – in the midst of all these - we have left out reigning Macau Open men’s doubles champions Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong from the Hong Kong Open, thus destroying their chances of featuring in the BWF’s World Super Series Finals?

Are you feeling dizzy like me right now?

A coach with the Paralympian SEA Games squad asked me a question on Tuesday, during a visit by the chef-de-mission Datuk Wira Amiruddin Embi at Bukit Jalil Sports Complex: “Why (is it that) the good ones have to go? Why can’t we find the right people to do the right job? Why do some people clamour for power and position?”

I have no answers for him.

Maybe, we will find some next year or the next or the next. One should never give up hope.

The writer is looking forward to the Myanmar SEA Games although she and her seven colleagues have no idea where they will be staying despite having made the bookings for hotel rooms in Naypyitaw two months ago. Maybe, with Christmas looming, a stable and a manger would be a good option.

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