PETALING JAYA: The goose that lays the golden egg has been caged.
Artistic swimming (synchronised swimming), which has never failed to contribute gold for Malaysia at the SEA Games, is facing a premature end.
The national association, Malaysia Swimming, believe it is an end of a golden run – especially since the National Sports Council (NSC) are no longer funding the national synchronised swimming programme because of financial constraints and because it will not be contested at the Vietnam and Cambodia SEA Games in 2021 and 2023.
Four swimmers from the victorious 2017 SEA Games campaign in Kuala Lumpur were still in the training programme until the recovery movement control order three months ago but has since gone back to their respective states.
The four – Gan Hua Wei, Zylane Lee Yhing Huey, Mandy Lim and Nurliyana Nadirah – were training under local coach Shareen Png, who herself partnered Katrina Ann Hadi to claim five golds in the sport at the 2011 SEA Games.
Malaysia Swimming secretary Mae Chen is hoping NSC will reconsider the decision.
“Only states like Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Penang have programmes for synchronised swimming.
“NSC do not want to support synchronised swimming any more and redirected it back to the national federation. But I hope they reconsider, as continuity is very important in a technical sport like this.
“It takes a long time to develop and train a synchronised swimming athlete. With a national programme in place, there is hope for the young ones to aim for something.
“If we stop just like that, I worry about whether we can prepare a team in a few months’ time.
“Otherwise, we would just gift-wrap the gold to Singapore who are now the strongest team in the region for synchronised swimming,” said Mae.