FOR too long, we have allowed our athletes to take part in international events when they do not really deserve to go.
For too long, we have been too forgiving of the athletes who fail to deliver, often finding reasons to rejoice in finishing second or even third when we should have been first.
No more free rides, declares National Sports Council director-general Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong after our dismal performance at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
We agree. And we hope this is not just a statement said for the moment, only to be ignored when the next major international event comes along.
How embarrassing it must be for our men’s hockey team to lose 4-2 to Trinidad and Tobago. Not to mention that we conceded 19 goals and only netted eight in the five matches played.
Of course, in rugby, the Malaysian Sevens have earned a record that will be hard to beat. We finished last, but just look at the scores: 52-0, 36-7, 54-0, 35-0, 15-10. And this was the third time in the last three games that we finished last. Talk about being a sucker for punishment.
Although we delight in our golden moments – six, which was one short of our target – we must not forget that our last outing in New Delhi was our best achievement, when we took home 12 gold medals.
That we have set our target so low this time around is indicative that we do not have the confidence that the various sports will deliver.
And we are only talking about the Commonwealth Games, which is not always the best arena for the most competitive sports.
The Asian Games in South Korea is up next and we should, in the words of Zolkples, send quality rather than quantity.
That should be the standard for everything. It is about time we send only potential winners to all games, from the SEA Games to the Olympics.
We must devote more time and resources to grooming top-notch athletes who genuinely deserve their tickets to international events, not just send representatives armed only with hope, only to come back empty-handed.
Germany won the World Cup in Brazil because the team was prepared years ahead.
Let us prepare our athletes quietly and effectively and then unleash them at international events.
Let it not be that most of them are sent to make up the numbers, like what happened at the Commonwealth Games, but that they are there to win, or at least, to make a difference. Nothing else matters. The STAR Columnist August 6, 2014