OLYMPIC Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar lambasted the media for its continuous use of the word “failure” to describe the national contingent’s performances at the recently-concluded Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
Malaysia failed to achieve targets of seven and eight gold medals at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Incheon Asian Games respectively, leading to a unanimous verdict by various media practitioners that the national contingent failed in their dual mission this year.
Even Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin admitted as such after the Asian Games but Tunku Imran had a different view.
“I have always been reluctant to give gold medal targets as this can work badly against the athletes who are under a lot of pressure,” said Tunku Imran in an address before honouring 20 athletes who won six gold medals in Glasgow and five in Incheon at the OMC-Sports Toto Outstanding Athletes of the Games awards in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“I believe we should not give gold medal targets and this is where I am critical of the media. To say that five gold, 14 silver and 14 bronze medals (in Incheon) is a failure, it is not a failure.
“Athletes who won silver and bronze medals have also brought honour to the country. I think the word failure is a favourite of politicians and the media and I hope the Malaysian media start talking up the athletes performances rather than bringing them down.”
Tunku Imran went on to say that the media should set the targets instead — which Timesport did for Incheon by predicting 10 gold medals — and would rather look at the total number of medals won than just the gold medal count.
When Khairy announced the gold medal targets for Glasgow and Incheon, however, there was no mention of overall medals targets nor from which sports they would come from.
Ironically, as Tunku Imran was talking about the importance of winning silver and bronze medals as well as gold, it is worth noting that Sports Toto and OCM chose to only reward the gold medallists yesterday.
Later when taking questions from the press, Tunku Imran was reminded that the media played up success stories just as much as those who fell short.
Tunku Imran was also told that from 2008 to 2012, 46 sports received total government funding of RM222 million as revealed recently and that the public had a right to demand a return on that investment.
“I apologise for being over critical of the media but it is frustrating when you see how hard the athletes have tried,” said Tunku Imran. “I think when the word failure is used, it upset me quite a bit and we should maybe try to find a different word.”
Sports Toto, represented by communications manager Giam Say Khoon, handed out RM50,000 as a reward for the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medals including RM9,000 to OCM.
Of the remainder, squash World No 1 Nicol David was the biggest recipient with RM7,000 for winning individual gold medals at both Games and as a team gold medallist in Incheon.
Of the other Commonwealth Games gold medallists, weightlifter Hafifi Mansor and diver Ooi Tze Liang pocketed RM3,000 each, badminton players Goh V Shem, Tan Wee Kiong, Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei each got RM2,500 for winning doubles and team gold medals while the other members of the victorious badminton mixed team — Chong Wei Feng, Liew Daren, Chan Peng Soon, Lim Yin Loo, Tee Jing Yi and Lai Pei Jing — received RM1,000 each.
For the Asian Games, karate exponents Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan and Lim Chee Wei received RM3,000 each, sailors Ahmad Syukri Abdul Aziz and Faizal Mansor shared RM3,000 and squash team members Low Wee Wern, Delia Arnold and Vanessa Raj each got RM1,000.