Podium safe for now Minister says it would be an injustice to axe Podium Programme

Masterful show: National bowler Rafiq Ismail in action en route to winning the Masters gold in the Asian Games. — Bernama

Masterful show: National bowler Rafiq Ismail in action en route to winning the Masters gold in the Asian Games. — Bernama

PUTRAJAYA: It will be an injustice to drop the Podium Programme.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said it was not right to axe the Podium Programme as some of the athletes have done well in the recent Asian Games.

“Athletes from tenpin bowling and squash contributed two golds each while cycling, sailing and sepak takraw delivered too. They are all in the Podium Programme,” said Syed Saddiq at the ministry yesterday.

Malaysia achieved their target by winning seven golds, 13 silvers and 16 bronzes.

“However, I’m waiting for a comprehensive report before we can re-look into the Podium Programme and see what can be improved,” said Syed Saddiq.

“There should be a reward and punishment structure. There should be a collective responsibility for sports that failed to win medals at the Asiad.”

He pointed out that badminton has contributed medals in the Olympics and past Asian Games but fell short in Jakarta.

“There must be a complete post-mortem to know why they failed. We’ll have a discussion with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM). There must be accountability,” he said.

“All athletes and coaches have to achieve their KPIs. And the funding for sports associations will depend on these KPIs.

“There will be new comprehensive KPIs. For sports to get bigger funding, they must walk the talk and prove themselves by winning medals in the Games.

“We’ll also make sure that all the sports associations get sport science support.”

He also justified his decision to support Podium Programme as the budget spent on the elite programme was a small figure compared to the amount used by the United Kingdom and Australia on their high-performance athletes.

“(The) UK spent US$1.3bil (RM5.39bil) a year while Australia spent US$800mil (RM3.3bil) a year,” said Syed Saddiq.

In comparison, Malaysia only spent a total of RM170mil on the Podium Programme since it was launched in 2016.

The National Sports Institute (NSI) chief executive officer Dr Khairi Zawi chipped in and said: “The RM170mil is spent for training, competitions and training allowance for athletes and coaches.”

Meanwhile, Syed Saddiq plans to hold a town hall discussion involving the ministry, the National Sports Council (NSC), the National Sports Institute (NSI), Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), all sports associations and also the media.

“We’ll discuss ways to improve sports in the country,” he said.

Podium Programme , athletes