Owning up is hard to do

PETALING JAYA: In these days of anorexic women and stick-thin models on catwalks, it's uncomfortable, to say the least, when you are teenager who is overweight. 

It's harder yet when you are a rhythmic gymnast – and gets even harder when you have to come out and admit it. 

Hats off then to national rhythmic gymnast Durratun Nashihin Rosli.  

While others around were determined to keep her weight problem under wraps, the 18-year-old proved to be the most sensible head around by coming out in the open about it. 

Better yet, she's determined to do something about the problem. 

A good athlete and a brave girl: Durratun may have a body that’s bigger than ideal for her sport – but she’s also got a heart that’s stouter than so many others. –KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star

A slimmer Durratun put up a dazzling show to win five silver medals at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in March last year and she has vowed to not only get back into shape but also win a place in next year's Beijing Olympic Games, which would make her the first Malaysian rhythmic gymnast to do so. 

Whether she makes it or not is another matter.  

But it is admirable that she has the courage to admit the problem. 

Even Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi was impressed. “It is good that she admitted it. The danger now is for the athletes her age to plunge into unhealthy ways of losing weight. But with proper programme and discipline, we hope that she will achieve her goal.” 

Durratun is not the first to have weighty problems.  

Former national women swimmers Cindy Ong and Nurul Hudda Abdullah both battled with weight problems too. 

National striker Akmal Rizal Rakhli, who gained much from his stint with French side Strasbourg FC from 1999-2001, returned home but was hit by string of injuries. Admitting to a comfy life style, the plump striker had to take the Cooper Test eight times before getting back into the national side. 

At a time when even the government is worried about the effects of fast food and the ever-growing obesity problem, putting on weight is fairly common. 

It's admitting it – and doing something about a problem that makes the difference. 

National men singles shuttler Kuan Beng Hong is another player who knew how to take a blow under the chin and stay on his feet.  

He failed as the third men's singles player in the Thomas Cup Finals semi-finals tie against Denmark last year. He took the blame, apologised to the public, and admitted that his skills were not up to the mark. He is still in the national team and making progress. 

While athletes are ready to admit their shortcomings, there are administrators – at least some of them – who believe they can do no wrong. 

They are either slow to admit mistakes or too proud to recognise their own flaws. 

Kok Chi agrees that in Malaysian sport, transparency is sorely lacking. 

“As far as Malaysian sport is concerned, it seems nothing can go wrong. Some are living in denial and do not want their image to be marred. Some cover up issues and try to solve it. Others just cover up and do nothing. Only some expose things and get things going.” 

“Sometimes, we can learn from mistakes or problems. It is good to acknowledge a problem and move forward,” he said. 

Sadly, it seems easier to sweep matters under the carpet. 

If not, why didn't the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) come out in the open and say that they had erred in the contract of the coaches, which eventually saw Chinese Li Mao joining the Korean BA and women's doubles coach Cheah Soon Kit questioning his salary. 

The BAM reacted only when the pressure piled up. 

Infighting within associations is nothing new. Take the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) and the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF). The infighting is almost incessant. 

Sports Commissioner Tan Sri Elyas Omar is a busy man. He even has a squabble on his hand with two parties both claiming to be the genuine authority of their sport. 

Is there something wrong with our Sports Act. Why is there room for so much dispute and discord? 

It has been two months now since the National Sports Council (NSC)'s Doha programme climaxed with the closing ceremony of the Asian Games. But there is no news on the long-awaited new programme geared towards the Beijing Olympic Games. 

Should it not have been revealed during the Feb 8 meeting of the Cabinet Committee for Sport? 

Or were the cabinet committee too preoccupied with the High Performance Training Centre in Brickendonbury, London? It was revealed that RM69mil would be needed for refurbishment work at the centre. There was no announcement on what is being planned for the Olympics just over a year away. 

Then, there was that announcement that the Malaysian junior team have been accepted to train at Arsenal FC in London. It was heart-warming news. 

But the Hertfordshire Mercury newspaper on Feb 16 says that Arsenal had denied having had any discussions on such a matter. 

Whose mistake is that? Why is no one owning up? 

One person, the NSC director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz, seems to be going against the trend. After a protest on a “ruling” that requires media personnel to seek permission from the NSC's Communication department before even interviewing athletes, he reacted quickly.  

“I apologise for any inconvenience. We only want to facilitate the media. We will certainly look into the matter if it is causing inconvenience to the media.” 

That was encouraging. Maybe, the others in the Malaysian sport fraternity should take the cue from him – and from Durratun.  

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