KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's International Olympic Committee (IOC) scholarship recipients have been urged to go one step better than just merely making the grade to qualify for the Olympic Games at Athens next year.
Yesterday, OCM secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi said, he hopes to see the recipients among the medallists.
This year, the athletes will go through the Olympic qualifying process by competing in selected tournaments to make the cut for the Athens Games. For some sports, the qualifying period had already begun.
Currently, there are eight athletes under the IOC scholarship programme geared towards the Athens Games. They are four badminton players - world number three Wong Choong Hann, Mohd Hafiz Hashim and top doubles pair Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng; walker Yuan Yufang; sailor Kevin Lim; cyclist Josiah Ng and swimmer Siow Yi Ting.
At the last Olympic Games in Sydney, none of the selected IOC scholarship holders won medals.
“I hope all these eight athletes will qualify for the Olympics first. But more than just qualifying, I expect them to be medallists if possible. And some should end up in good position or finish as finalists,” said Kok Chi.
“In Sydney, our doubles pair Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah did well by reaching the semi-finals. The badminton players have justified their inclusion in the Olympics so far. I hope to see the other athletes achieve their best ever results in the Games.”
Kok Chi said hopefully the direct funding from the IOC would spur and motivate the athletes.
“These potential athletes need specialised training and we hope that with the direct funding from IOC, it will give them some flexibility in planning their programmes and achieve something extra. Sometimes, the national associations do not have time to concentrate on one or two athletes,” he said.
This is the third batch of athletes that have received direct funding from the IOC. This year, the amount given to the athletes varies and the maximum allowance monthly is US$1,000 (RM$3,800).
Out of the eight current IOC recipients, three are currently training abroad. Josiah is in Switzerland while Yi Ting is in the Bolles School in United States and Kevin is based in Australia.
The OCM monitors the recipients' performances and the athletes are expected to submit a report on a quarterly basis to ensure that they continue to receive the funding.