Minister: Pandelela-Dhabitah absence from Olympics a wake-up call [NSTTV]

KANGAR: Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh believes the absence of national diving stalwarts Pandelela Rinong and Nur Dhabitah Sabri from this year's Paris Olympics should serve as a wake-up call.

Bertrand Rhodict Lises is the only Malaysian diver who has qualified on merit for Paris (July 26-Aug 11).

Yeoh said the absence of top national divers at the Olympics should be viewed seriously by every state, urging them to look forward in talent development.

"I have asked Bryan Nickson Lomas (Malaysia Aquatics diving technical director) to expedite the fast track programme for diving," said Yeoh today.

"Pandelela and Dhabitah not going to the Olympics is a wake-up call.

"We cannot forever be depending on Pandelela and Dhabitah as we did before with Datuk Lee Chong Wei (badminton) and Datuk Nicol David (squash).

"It is time for us to produce new athletes. Talent identification in each state is very important.

"Each state should focus on the identification and development of new talent, even if diving is not a core sport for that state.

"There could be athletes with potential in states which we do not realise. They can be further groomed."

Yeoh said development programmes were especially important in women's diving as they have greater medal prospects in international competitions and multi-sport games.

The number of female divers has been declining in recent years.

"This is why I have told the state youth and sports excos to give equal attention to women in sports.

"I hope the respective state sports councils will not neglect women sports by not giving them a budget. We do not want talent to go to waste," she said.

"A lack of divers in the women's category almost forced the 10m platform event to be dropped from the Malaysia Games this year.

"We were fortunate to be able to reinstate the programme after securing competitors from six states for the event."

Yeoh was speaking after witnessing the Diving Talent Search Programme at the Tuanku Syed Putra Aquatics Complex in Kangar today.

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