More young athletes to be sent for 2021 SEA Games - Syed Saddiq

Last update: 16/12/2019

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 -- Malaysia will send more young athletes to the 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam as part of a long-term plan to produce athletes who can challenge for honours on a bigger stage, said Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.

He said those who excelled at the Malaysia Games (Sukma) and Malaysian university games would stand a chance of being sent to the regional games.

The National Sports Council (NSC) would use the Sukma 2018 and Sukma 2020 as selection platforms to prepare for the 2021 SEA Games, he said.

He said Malaysia would persist with parading young talents at the SEA Games for the long-term good of Malaysian sports although it might affect the country’s chances of winning gold medals.

"In the recent edition in the Philippines, 51 per cent of our athletes were under 21 years old and they gained their first exposure at the international level. Majority but still not enough.

“We should give more space for our back-up athletes to prepare for games at the Asian and Commonwealth levels.

"We have to accept this challenge because if we do not do it at the SEA Games, our performance will be affected at the Asian, Commonwealth and Olympic Games. That will be worse,” he told a press conference after chairing the NSC Board of Managers meeting here today.

"Vietnam and Thailand have moved ahead. In the 2017 edition, they lost many medals because they fielded many new athletes but these athletes beat our seniors this time,” he added.

The meeting saw the tabling of the preliminary report on the national contingent’s performance at the 2019 SEA Games, where Malaysia failed to meet their 71-gold target when they won only 56 gold, 57 silver and 71 bronze medals.

Based on the preliminary report, sports associations which failed to meet their targets would be asked to explain their failure.

Syed Saddiq said the NSC and National Sports Institute (NSI), with the cooperation of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), would be conducting a sport by sport post-mortem of the SEA Games with athletes, coaches and sports association officials beginning January next year.

He also asked the NSC to review the status of core sports in terms of governance, organisation development and their performance.

Today’s meeting also approved NSC’s budget for 2020 totalling RM329 million, which is higher than the RM269 million allocated for this year.

A sum of RM222 million, or 67.5 per cent of the budget, is for programmes related to the development of national athletes, compared to RM165 million this year.

-- BERNAMA