Women athletes hold key to Olympic gold
PUTTING more effort into developing women athletes could be key to ending Malaysia’s wait for an elusive Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo edition.
Of the 13 Olympic medallists the country has produced since 1992, only three are women — divers Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong and badminton’s Goh Yiu Ling.
Using newly crowned national badminton champion M. Thinaah as an example, SportExcel chairman Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar urged national sports associations to pay more attention to developing talent among sportswomen.
“I have advocated for many years that the easiest medal to win in badminton at the Olympics is the mixed doubles, because with the exception of Denmark and Britain, not many countries concentrate on it,” said Tunku Imran at the SportExcel individual funding presentation in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
“I would like to urge national sport associations which don’t really put much effort in women to do so. Bowling and squash have always had gender equity policies and we can see in these two sports how well they have done in both the men and women’s side of things.
“Women have tended to be the ones to win world honours,” added Tunku Imran, referring to bowlers Shalin Zulkilfi and Esther Cheah and eight-time world squash champion Nicol David.
With regard to Thinaah, Tunku Imran said the right guidance and support is needed to turn the 19-year-old into a global superstar following her recent breakthrough at the National Championships in Ipoh.
“She could be the one to bag Malaysia’s elusive gold in badminton at the Olympics,” said Tunku Imran, who is also the Olympic Council of Malaysia president.
“We have had so many promising youngsters breaking into the national ranks only to disappear for a while. This requires soul searching on the part of the national associations as to why a particular talent is lost.”
SportExcel, which organises 14 circuits for 12 sports, distributed RM52,500 to 39 junior athletes from eight sports based on their achievements last year while welcoming Genting Malaysia back as a charter member with a contribution of RM15,000.
“There could be more members in the pipeline and we have been talking to a few companies,” added Tunku Imran. “They have been very positive.”
Sportexcel chairman Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar (centre) with the recipients of the incentives at a presentation in
Bukit Jalil yesterday.
PIC BY ZUNNUR AL SHAFIQ