Women ath­letes hold key to Olympic gold

New Straits Times - - Sport - Devin­der Singh

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

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