Forget about first Olympic gold in Paris, says sports critic Sadek

KUALA LUMPUR: Can Malaysia win their first Olympic gold medal in Paris?

Recent results of Malaysian athletes suggest a challenging road ahead.

Sports critic Sadek Mustaffa agreed it would be tough for Malaysian athletes to achieve that dream at the Paris Olympics.

The Road to Gold (RTG) was established to provide elite athletes the support they need to achieve their goals.

However, things are not going as planned as several athletes, including two-time Olympic medallist Pandelela Rinong and Nur Dhabitah Sabri, failed to qualify for the Paris Games.

"The four-year Olympic cycle used by RTG to select athletes under the programme is not a good decision. In sports, a four-year cycle is just too long to gauge athletes," said Sadek.

"We have to be realistic. Just look at the prospects we have for the Paris Games. Many athletes in the programme are either inconsistent, newcomers, or near their retirement age. It is just not right to depend on them for gold medals in Paris.

"Maybe we should look at the next tier of athletes from the Podium Programme.

"The only way to progress is by accepting failure first. We need a comprehensive programme to prepare athletes for the 2028 Los Angeles and 2032 Brisbane Olympics. These two editions should be the target for our athletes."

Sadek suggested identifying and nurturing young athletes for future Olympic Games.

"Up-and-coming athletes who are performing and showing promise should be in RTG. Among them are weightlifter Aniq Kasdan, cyclist Nurul Izzah Izzati Asri and diver Bertrand Rhodict Lises, who are big potentials for the Los Angeles Games.

"We have to start now by grooming them accordingly and sending them for high-level competitions and training. The country should be thinking afar, not planning just for the short-term, to help our athletes progress.

"We cannot depend on older athletes for gold medals, especially in sports like diving.

"For instance, China regularly produce top young divers who go on to win Olympic and world titles. We should be looking at this formula.

"It is also time for sports administrators to take responsibility for failures. We can identify our weaknesses and move forward by experiencing failures," he added.

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