The recent loss of Dato Lee Chong Wei to his nemesis, Lin Dan and the humiliation of our sepak takraw team to minnows South Korea, speaks volumes on how far we have slid down the ladder of sporting excellence. Even the article about Dato’ Nicol David was damning for Malaysia, attributing much of her success to the fact that her training base is in Amsterdam, spending only 2 months a year in Malaysia.
Our infrastructure in supporting top athletes is glaringly deficient. Our achievement in sports has not been in tandem with the money spent. It is clear we are not developing sports as we should and remedial action is called for urgently.
Sports Science is often not looked upon favorably as a career option and is under-recognized in Malaysia. Nurturing talents involves a holistic approach, from physical priming to the diet, put together in a well orchestrated piece around the athlete. Understanding fields like physiology and psychology is part of athletic development. Finding that extra edge may make the difference between a medal position or otherwise.
There is a dire need to revamp our approach to sports. Instilling a good sporting culture in schools is important, offering academic scholarships and recognizing sporting excellence at this stage is paramount. So to develop a good athlete, we need to develop talents in order to support a good athlete. This will enable more internationally renowned athletes in setting up training bases within Malaysia. Not only are we not developing the sciences around sports but we are bleeding talent to other countries.
We can try as hard as we can but if we do not understand the intricacies of sports, then that top podium finish will always remain elusive.