I REFER to the report titled “NSC celebrates golden jubilee with an eye on Olympic gold” (StarSport, Feb 22; online at bit.ly/star_nsc).
Malaysia is known internationally for the sporting events we have organised over the years, such as Hockey World Cup in 1975, Commonwealth Games in 1998, Thomas Cup and many other international sporting events televised worldwide.
These include the F1 championship beginning in 1999 for nearly a decade, Moto GP and Le Tour de Langkawi since 1996.
The National Sports Council (NSC), which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, was formed in 1971 and has grown from its humble beginnings into a multi- million-ringgit-funded council that selects, trains, coaches, educates and manages national athletes with supportive policies and regulations while working with the National Sports Institute to develop sports in Malaysia.
However, we are missing one achievement: We have yet to win a gold medal at the Olympics since we began participating in 1956 in Melbourne, Australia. (The Para-lympics is another story, with Malaysian athletes having won three gold medals in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.)
Datuk Lee Chong Wei came close to winning badminton gold at three Olympics but had to settle for silver medals instead.
And we’re unlucky that women’s squash is not an Olympic sport as we are home to eight-time World Women’s Squash champion Datuk Nicol David.
Now, Malaysia is hoping to win gold at the 2021 Olympics in July in Tokyo through Azizulhasni Awang (who won bronze in cycling in Rio) and Pandelela Rinong (who won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and silver in Rio for an exceptional performance in synchronised diving from the 10m platform).
If our elite athletes fail to deliver, the NSC and Olympic Council of Malaysia should probably review their policies and perhaps consider adopting the South Korean approach to providing financial allocations and creating an infrastructure for a high-performance sports programme supported by a private entity that is not embroiled in politicking and sticks strictly to support based on merit and capability.
The NSC could also work with global development partners on sports research and hold conferences and symposia based on the concept of “To be the best, learn from the best”.
Supported by such infrastructure and with a balanced talent scorecard based on merit, the NSC can work together with athletes and coaches to clinch not one gold medal but many in the future.
C. SATHASIVAM SITHERAVELLU
Former national athlete