Stephen lauds pension scheme for fellow Olympians

High point: Stephen van Huizen is hoisted by players after Malaysia beat Japan to qualify for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

PETALING JAYA: Former hockey great Stephen van Huizen and all other Olympians can finally smile.

These former athletes are set to draw pension for representing Malaysia at the Olympic Games if an initiative by the Sports Ministry and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) come to fruition.

Plans are in the works to expand a pension scheme for the Olympians but it is still subject to government’s approval.

Currently, only the Olympics and Paralympics medallists draw a monthly allowance under the scheme, which started in 2004.

A gold medallist is entitled to RM5,000 a month while silver and bronze medallists receive RM3,000 and RM2,000 respectively. As Malaysia have yet to win a gold at the Olympics, the government have only been paying for the silver and bronze medal winners.

Stephen, who represented Malaysia at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and was also a former vice-president of the Malaysian Olympian Association (MOA), said it was time that the pension scheme was revised to benefit every Olympian.

“It is a good initiative by the Sports Minister and the OCM. We in the MOA have been proposing this over the years, ” said Stephen.

“There are only around 300 plus Olympians and they have sacrificed blood, sweat and tears to bring honour to the country and take part in the ultimate sports event.

“The Olympics is the pinnacle of every sportsman and sportswoman’s career and it’s not easy to qualify.”

Stephen said whatever amount given would be worth it.

“So many Olympians have dedicated many of their best years and made so many sacrifices – family, career, promotion, studies, injuries, setbacks etc... so that they can participate in the Olympics, ” said the former national hockey coach.

“All Olympians have his or her own individual story of how they have fought and overcome the odds to achieve their dreams.”

Stephen said that not everyone could return as a medallist although everyone had put in the same amount of work.

“The Olympics Creed reminds us of this struggle to qualify for the biggest event in the world, ” he said.

“The creed, or the guiding principle of the modern Olympics is as what has been quoted by the founder Baron de Coubertin... ‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle’.”

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