OCM should promote sport for all citizens

Sport for all: Mohamad Norza (third from left) at the 37th OCM annual general assembly recently. OCM should also promote masters sport.

Sport for all: Mohamad Norza (third from left) at the 37th OCM annual general assembly recently. OCM should also promote masters sport.

I REFER to the reports “Kudos to OCM’s recognition of women leaders” (The Star, May 7) and “That’s my dream team” (Sunday Star, May 6).

I would like to join the sport community to extend our heartiest congratulations to the new Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president’s dream team which comprises old and new faces.

But I would like to take issue with OCM for not getting more women in its 2018-2021 committee. There are only four women in the executive council despite the fact that there are many capable and dedicated ones out there.

Nevertheless, it is heartening to know that the new OCM president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria has called on the team to start work immediately to prepare our athletes for the Indonesia Asian Games from Aug 18 till Sept 2.

As a veteran or master athlete (masters sport for anyone aged 35 and above), I am more concerned about the development and promotion of masters sport in the country.

Since masters sport is under the umbrella of the World Masters Games (WMG), and athletics (track and field) is under the World Masters Athletics Association (WMAA) – both bodies are recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Sport Federations (IFs) – the OCM should seriously and conscientiously promote masters sport in this country.

By virtue of its recognition by the IOC, the OCM is duty bound to include masters sport in their programmes and activities, which, in my opinion, has been neglected for decades.

Masters sport in Western countries have been around for ages. For instance, the first World Masters Games were staged by Canada (Toronto) in 1985. Since then, World Masters Games have taken place every four years in various cities across the world.

Sydney, which hosted the Masters Games in 2009, attracted a record 28,676 competitors. This is more than double the number of competitors who took part in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

I was privileged to be among the competitors and won two medals in the race walk events – silver (5,000m) and bronze (1km).

At the Auckland Word Masters Games last year, I was again fortunate to win three medals – a silver (5,000m), two bronze (1,500m and 3,000m).

I believe there are many master athletes in our country who are capable of winning medals in the world championships if given the opportunity to participate.

A classic example is 82-year-old Ng Chow Seng, who has won gold six times in world Masters Games. This is an incredible achievement by any standard.

Incidentally, Penang will host the 1st Asia Pacific Masters Games (APMG) from Sept 2 to Sept 10 this year and Malaysia will organise the 21st Asia Masters Athletics Championships (AMAC) in Kuching next year.

I sincerely urge the Government and OCM in particular to help in whatever ways to make APMG and AMAC a huge success, which inevitably will make Malaysia great in promoting masters sport among the world sporting countries.

In this respect, I hope the OCM will not only focus on promoting elite sport but also sport for all, including for the senior citizens of this country.