WE wait with bated breath to win our first gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics from Aug 5 to 21. Achieving that honour rests on the shoulders of badminton world No. 1 and double Olympic silver medallist Datuk Lee Chong Wei.
But the good news that brings us great hope is that, this time round, our medal hopes, including gold, have more depth than ever before, including: men’s badminton doubles pair Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong; mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying; women’s doubles pair Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei and Tee Jing Yi (who competes in the women’s singles).
That’s not all. Khairul Anuar Mohamad (archery); Mohd Azizulhasni Awang and Fatehah Mustapa (cycling); Pandelela Rinong, the 2012 bronze medallist; and rising talent Cheong Jun Hoong (diving) are among medal hopefuls, together with others competing in diving, sailing, shooting, swimming, athletics and weightlifting.
Since we first competed at the Olympics years ago at the Melbourne Games in 1956, we have won six medals: three silver and two bronze in badminton and a bronze in diving.
To our Olympians who will travel to Rio this week, we say: “From the time Chong Wei bears our beloved Jalur Gemilang, leading Malaysia at the inaugural ceremony of the Games and through each event in which you participate, we will be rooting for you.” Rueben Dudley, Petaling Jaya, Selangor NST Opinion You Write 29 July 2016 @ 11:01 AM
Talent scouting is key
IDENTIFYING talent in sports can be a challenging task. From our Sukma Games, hopefully some hidden gems will be uncovered by our talent scouts who can nurture and develop them.
Currently, only a select few sports associations, such as hockey, squash, badminton, karate and bowling, have a well-structured talent programme in place.
Football, our country’s No. 1 sports, is in the doldrums, along with athletics. The Youth and Sports Ministry and FAM have undertaken a mammoth task to revive the beautiful game through the National Football Development Programme for children ages 7 to 17.
Khairul Hafiz Jantan. Pix by OSMAN ADNAN
To achieve the desired results at the regional level, it takes time, effective training and foreign exposure to upgrade our youths’ skills, maturity, professionalism and leadership.
Starting at a young age ensures the individual receives the 10-year pathway to elitism. In the absence of grassroots development programmes in many sports, the Sukma Games has become our shortcut saviour to harness talents below 20.
Athletics has not been up to expectations and hopefully, our sprint sensation, Khairul Hafiz Jantan, a semi-finalist at the recent World Junior Athletics Championship in Poland, rises to the occasion at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 2017.
Other notable talents, such as Jonathan Nypes, Badrul Hisyam Abdul Manap, Mohd Rizzu Haizad, Sheeren Samson Vallaboy, Kirthana, Nauraj, Ifran Shamsudin and Muhammad Hakimi Ismail, will form the bulk of our track and field team for the SEA Games, unless new talents surface from the ongoing Sukma Games for Malaysia to put up a decent fight against Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore.