Government aid a shot in the arm to achieve world excellence


KUALA LUMPUR: The eight sports associations picked yesterday by the Cabinet Committee for the Development of Sports to get full financial aid gave the thumbs up to the government for their initiative. 

The general consensus among them was it would give greater impetus to achieve their dreams of moulding world champions. 

The sports that will work hand-in-hand with the government to develop their talent are badminton, hockey, athletics, bowling, squash, aquatics, gymnastics and football. 

The decision to start with eight sports was made by the Cabinet Committee at their first meeting yesterday. 

The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president, Datuk Mohamed Nadzmi Salleh said that they were grateful that they would be getting full government support. 

“We share with them the aspiration to produce world champions. Malaysian badminton players have reached world standards and it is our wish to bring them to win consistently in the international arena,” he said. 

“Our ultimate goal is to win the first gold medal for Malaysia in the Olympics. With strong government support, we hope to reach that goal.” 

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) felt that the move was timely and it would give them a major boost to their efforts to raise the standard of the game. 

The MHF acting secretary, T. Paramalingam, said: “Since 1975, we have made it to the top 12 ranking in the world consistently. 

“Like the other seven associations, we need government support to further improve our sport. Money is a major problem for us and with the government wanting to work hand-in-hand with us, I feel that we can only get better in carrying out our plans. 

“We thank the government for including hockey in the list. We look forward to working with them. Besides the players, the coaches will also benefit from the move.” 

 

HOW MALAYSIA HAVE FARED IN THE EIGHT SPORTS 

AQUATICS 

LIM Keng Liat delivered the best-ever performance on the world stage when he made the top eight final of the 100m backstroke in the World Championships in Barcelona last year. Keng Liat set a new national record of 54.77. He was also the first Malaysian gold medallist in Asian Games swimming – in Bangkok in 1998. He was also the first Malaysian to swim in an Olympic semi-finals – in the Athens Games in August.In diving, 14-year-old Bryan Nickson gave hope for the future when he won the 3m-springboard title in the World Junior Championships in Brazil last week. Bryan is the first Malaysian to become a world junior diving champion.  

ASUM president: Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim 

ATHLETICS 

THE best-ever performance on the world stage dates far back to 1968 (Mexico) when Datuk Dr Mani Jegathesan qualified for the semi-finals of the men's 200m. His national record of 20.92 still stands today. The other high-level performance was achieved in 1976 Olympics by hurdler Istiaqh Mubarak when he qualified for the semi-finals as well. At the 1998 Commonwealth Games, V. Saravanan won a surprise gold medal in the 50km walk. 

MAAU president: Datuk Mohamed Syed Aidid Murtaza 

BADMINTON 

THE last biggest achievement by a Malaysian team was winning the 1992 Thomas Cup. In individual men's singles in recent years, Wong Choong Hann was the runner-up in the World Championships last year and Mohamed Hafiz Hashim lifted the prestigious All-England title. Currently, Choong Hann is the highest ranked Malaysian player in the world at number 10 while the doubles combination of Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah are ranked at number six. 

BAM president: Datuk Mohamed Nadzmi Salleh 

BOWLING 

MALAYSIANS won both the men's and women's title in the World Team Cup last year. In the individual category, Shalin Zulkifli finished as the runner-up in the World Ranking Masters earlier this year. This is the highest achievement for a Malaysian on the world stage. Malaysia were also the women's team winners in the World Championships last year. Malaysian bowlers have won numerous titles in Open championships around the world. They have also been very successful in the Asian and SEA Games. 

MTBC president: Datuk Dr P.S. Nathan 

GYMNASTICS 

NG Shu Wai was ranked number eight at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship in United States last year and is the first Malaysian to qualify on merit for an Olympics – the Athens Games in August. Malaysia's successes thus far have been achieved in the SEA Games. They have yet to win a medal at Asian Games. But in the 1998 Commonwealth Games, the rhythmic gymnasts won the team gold. MGF president: Datuk Dr Zakaria Ahmad 

HOCKEY 

THE men's team are now ranked 11th in the world. Malaysia have been a regular feature in the Olympics since 1992 but they failed to make it to the Athens Games in August. Their best-ever placing in the World Cup was in the 1975 Finals held in Kuala Lumpur. In the Olympics, the best Malaysian finish was eighth place in 1972. 

MHF president: Sultan Azlan Shah 

SQUASH 

NICOL David is the first Asian to get among the top 10 in the world rankings. She is now ranked at number eight. In the men's category, Ong Beng Hee broke into the top 10 in 2002. He is at number 18 today. Malaysia are two-time winners of the Asian women's team. They won it last year and retained it this year. Beng Hee and Nicol are also the reigning Asian individual champions. 

SRAM president: Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir 

FOOTBALL 

THE men's team are now ranked 117th in the world out of 205 countries affiliated to FIFA. Malaysia were qualifiers for the Munich Olympics in 1972 and the 1980 Moscow Olympics. But they did not go to Moscow because Malaysia joined a United States boycott of the Games. Malaysia have not won a SEA Games gold medal since 1989. 

FAM president: Sultan Ahmad Shah 

 

 

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) deputy president, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, said that they had a clear idea on what areas to work on to lift the standard of the game in the country. 

“We applaud the decision of the newly-formed sports cabinet in their bid to help us to improve football in general,” he said. 

“In fact, there are three areas we want to collaborate in making this sport a success. The main focus is the national team followed by the youth development programmes and the training of our local coaches. 

“We have been looking forward to working hand-in-hand with the ministry for a long time now. I have always believed that football should be a national agenda. 

“Yes, it is a timely decision. With the backing of the government, I am sure our combined efforts should elevate Malaysian football to new heights.” 

The secretary of the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF), N. Shanmugarajah, said: “There are many talented gymnasts in the country with the potential to perform in the Olympics and World Championships. 

“With the government's support, the sport will grow even bigger. This is a basic fundamental sport, which every child in school goes through training.” 

The Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) secretary, Sidney Tung, said: “This will definitely bring bowling to a higher level and popularise the sport even more. 

“Teachers can now take up coaching in bowling and this opens the scope of involvement to universities and colleges.” 

He added that parents were afraid to encourage their children to take up bowling full time.  

“They are worried that their children have no future when they quit. We hope the announcement will change things.” 

The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) secretary, Edwin Chong, said: “The government recognises the potential and have given their support. 

“We will strive to deliver. I believe it will not be too difficult once the coaching facilities are in place.” 

Edwin also hopes that more funding will be given to bring up talent to the highest level by sending them for overseas stints. 

 

Related Story:Najib announces aid to produce world-class athletes 

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