IN sports, as in life, it’s only normal to continuously aim for greater heights.
Otherwise, we might as well not set any standards, right?
Would Germany set a lower target at the next World Cup – in Russia in 2018 – now that they have been crowned world champions for the fourth time?
Would Manchester City be contented with finishing second in the coming English Premier League season after claiming the crown in May?
Would Manchester United aim to finish at No. 7 or lower next season?
Of course not, right?
So, why is it that Malaysia prefers to set a lower target for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow?
At the last Games in New Delhi four years ago, Malaysian athletes returned with 12 gold medals.
For Glasgow, the national selectors – comprising the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and the National Sports Council (NSC) – are only targeting seven gold medals (OCM and NSC usually hold a joint committee meeting to select athletes for the Games).
Granted, some of the sports have had their events reduced. But, even then, do they really have to set such a low target?
Or is this some sort of game that the OCM and NSC are playing? You know, set a low target so that when the athletes do really well and exceed it, then they can come out and proclaim that the Games have been an astounding success!
If they feel that our athletes can only provide seven gold medals, why then send such a big contingent?
Malaysia are sending 179 athletes to the Games – 104 men and 75 women. Why send some athletes or teams to the Games when we all know that they are going to get thrashed?
Is it for them “to gain experience”, “for exposure” or “as a learning curve”? Well, if that is the case, then it’s akin to throwing money down the drain.
It’s costly sending athletes to these Games. Glasgow is not near. The pound is extremely high compared to the ringgit.
The OCM and NSC should have done the right thing – raise the bar, not lower it.
They should challenge the athletes to meet the higher target. They should challenge the coaches to produce more winners.
Oh! How Malaysia could do with more world-class champions.
The only true world-class athletes in our midst are the usual suspects – shuttler Lee Chong Wei, squash ace Nicol David and diving queen Pandelela Rinong.
We have, for far too long, been happy with success in South-East Asia. It’s time we look further – and higher!
The Commonwealth Games may not be the epitome of ultimate success in the sporting arena, but it’s still a lot higher in terms of standard and quality compared to the SEA Games.
Another excuse about setting a lower target is that the OCM and NSC do not want to put unnecessary pressure on the athletes.
Champions thrive on pressure. Ask Germany. Ask Manchester City.
Ask any champion of any sport and they will tell you the same thing.
If they can’t embrace pressure and overcome it, then what’s the point of competing?
Could it be that the OCM and NSC are afraid to raise the bar because they are afraid of the pressure – and criticisms – that will befall them should the athletes not meet the target?
They say fortune favours the brave. Maybe we need braver men to helm the both OCM and NSC.
Men who will be bold enough to throw down the gauntlet to the athletes by setting lofty targets.
It’s time our athletes - and officials - embrace the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius - which mean Faster, Higher, Stronger.
Sports Editor R. Manogaran wants sports officials to stop pampering the athletes and start setting higher goals for them.