Our athletes are not fit enough, says Azalina

KUALA LUMPUR: An Australian test on the athletes under the Gemilang 2006 programme has revealed that they are an unfit lot. 

Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Azalina Othman Said said yesterday that fitness consultants from the Edith Cowan University under the guidance of the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) tested a total of 129 athletes from various sports last month. 

She said that the athletes were found to have good technical skills but poor fitness level. 

“I don't have the details of the results,” said Azalina after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of the National Fitness Council (NFC) with F&N Coca Cola (M) Sdn Bhd here yesterday. 

THIRST QUENCHER: F&N Coca-Cola (M) Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Ng JuiSia handing over the mock sponsorship cheque for the National Fitness Councilto Youth and Sports minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said yesterday.

“All I have is a brief report now and I am not sure whether we will disclose the details. I will be talking to the athletes first before making a decision. But it's very disappointing to find out that our athletes have a poor fitness level. 

“The blame should not be entirely on the athletes because they are unsure of the required fitness level. They are trained by high performance coaches, who focus mainly on the technical aspects. To blame them (coaches) is also unfair. 

“Nevertheless, I have always emphasised on thinking athletes. Athletes need to know the importance of endurance. 

“Without endurance, you cannot maintain the same technical ability for a long duration. Physical fitness also relates to mental strength. You can't think well when you are tired.” 

F&N have agreed to a RM2.1mil sponsorship of the NFC's activities this year. 

The chairman of the Gemilang 2006 programme, Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad, said that it was good hat they now knew the level of the athletes' fitness. 

“Once we get the details of the results, we’ll work from there. We will know the number of fitness condition coaches, nutritionists, mental trainers and necessary personnel needed to help our athletes improve on their fitness,” he said. 

“It is not a one-size-fits-all situation. We need to come up with specific solutions for the respective sports.” 

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