KUALA LUMPUR: “Kita Juara” (We are champions) – that’s the name of the programme aimed at propelling Malaysia to the top of the medal standings in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
The programme was launched by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin at a leading hotel here Monday night.
Malaysia emerged overall SEA Games champions for the first time when the 2001 edition was held here. That was the only time Malaysia had topped the medal standings in the biennial regional multi-Games since its inception in 1965.
Now, in a bid to reclaim the glory, the ministry has laid out a three-phase programme to prepare the athletes over the next two years.
The “Kita Juara” programme will be jointly coordinated by the National Sports Council (NSC), the National Sports Institute (NSI) and the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM).
The first phase, covering 12 months (until September 2016), gets under way this month with about 800 athletes from the 38 shortlisted sports for the Games kicking off their training programmes.
The second phase, from October 2016 to March 2017, will see the athletes under the programme being exposed extensively to competitions.
The programme will conclude with the reduction of athletes for the Games.
Those selected to represent Malaysia at the home Games will be put through an intensive physical and mental workout to raise their competitive level from April 2017 until the meet (the dates for the Games have yet to be announced).
“We’ll pick only the best. It’s not quantity that we are looking at, but quality. Those who have been selected comprise mostly athletes who were recent SEA Games gold medallists, Asian and Commonwealth Games podium finishers, Asian or world junior champions and those who are world top 16 or Asia’s top eight or at least national champions in their respective sports,” said Khairy.
“So, we hope to turn these athletes into winners at the 2017 SEA Games.
“We are looking at emerging as overall champions at home.”
Khairy also assured that the “Kita Juara” programme has been planned for long-term success.
“The ‘Kita Juara’ programme will lay the foundation for future success ... it’s not short-sighted,” he stressed.
“There’s no point becoming overall winners at the 2017 SEA Games and then let it all go down hill once more.”