A SMALL budget for sports development programmes was the main reason why Malaysia is unable to produce world class athletes who can win medals at the Olympics, said National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong.
He said investment on sports should not be measured solely from the economic aspect as sports were not capable of providing the economic return yet.
"Our budget is still low to produce Olympic standard athletes. We have also lost many good coaches as we could not match the high salaries offered to them by others," he said in London yesterday.
Zolkples was commenting on the views of several parties who disputed the RM20 million allocation under the "Road to London 2012" programme to win Malaysia's first gold medal in the 2012 Olympics.
Zolkples said the RM20 million budget was not the actual amount because the earlier allocation was lower.
"When hockey and football were entered into the programme, the total increased slightly but when the sports failed to qualify for the Olympics and were taken out of the programme, the budget was reduced and it was less than RM20 million," he said.
Malaysia, he said, had to put out a large budget to continue producing world class athletes.
He admitted NSC had also slashed its budget, especially those involving overseas training, due to the high cost involved.
"We had to chose the place of training and certain sports were given priority for overseas training," he said.
He said Lee Chong Wei, who won a silver medal at the London Olympics, had teased him that he received only RM3,500 a month incentive when an unknown player in South Korea was paid US$10,000 (RM32,000) a month as incentive.
He said NSC would be starting a new programme for its challenges at the Brazil Olympics in 2016.
NSC had identified new athletes for the programme as well as maintaining a number of those who competed in London as they were still competitive. -- Bernama