KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s vision of winning its first Olympic gold medal would only be a pipe dream based on Budget 2023 tabled today, said Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) senior sports science lecturer Mohd Sadek Mustaffa.
Sadek told The Vibes that despite the slight increase from last year’s RM289 million, this year’s RM374 million allocation would not be enough to cater to the country’s ambitions.
Instead, he said the government should consider granting an extra RM200 million to develop the Podium Programme, which was originally intended to help the country win its first gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, among others.
“It was a general budget for sports. (There were) no specifics on the Podium Programme.
We should have been focusing on helping our sports (with potential), such as badminton and cycling, to (win) our first Olympic gold medal.
“Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many sports development programmes had to be temporarily put on hold, which includes the development of our young athletes.
“This puts a huge gap in getting new athletes for the backup Podium Programme, putting us in no man’s land,” said Sadek, who lectures at UiTM’s Faculty of Sports, Science, and Recreation.
Meanwhile, from the RM374 million budget, RM154 million has been allocated to unearth new talents, develop training programmes, and equip sports facilities.
However, the Podium Programme was initiated in 2016 and had an allocation of RM380 million for sports development over a period of five years.
Some of the aims were to win the nation’s first gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, secure a top-10 medal finish at the 2018 Indonesia Asian Games, and the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games as well as have 10 athletes ranked among the top six in the world.
Unfortunately, the Malaysian contingent returned from the Tokyo Olympics with one silver and one bronze, finished 12th at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and 14th at the Indonesia Asian Games.
However, in February, the Youth and Sports Ministry announced that the programme would continue until 2025 with a monetary allocation of RM240 million to facilitate national athletes in their preparation for international sporting events, such as the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Even if the government decides to increase the allocation for the 2024 budget, the athletes will already have a year of training wasted, which would not be enough time for the upcoming major tournaments.
“We cannot wait for another 365 days for a new budget because the athletes would need to start collecting points at the start of 2023 to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.
“I think Malaysia has a long way to go before we get our first Olympic gold,” Sadek added. – The Vibes, October 8, 2022