THE unsatisfactory haul at the recent Glasgow Commonwealth Games proves that national sports development is in need of an overhaul, and that could start with an audit of the programme that was intended to prepare athletes for the Commonwealth and Asian Games this year.
Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said he will discuss the impact that the programmes, which started in 2011, have made with the national sports associations (NSA) involved but stressed he will have the final say on whether it is carried out.
The national athletes won six gold medals in Scotland, one less than the target set for them. Malaysia won 12 gold at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010.
“If we do decide to do it, it will take time. This is no ordinary financial audit, this is to determine the effectiveness of the programme,” said Khairy, when met at the flag handing over ceremony for athletes heading to the Nanjing Youth Olympics in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
“Most importantly, I need to find the suitable people to do it (audit).
“This audit cannot be done by the National Sports Council, National Sports Institute, Olympic Council of Malaysia or the NSAs as they are among the stakeholders. I am sorry to say but they are also the culprits of the situation.
“Ultimately, all the funding used for the programmes were approved by the sports minister and it is at the entire discretion of the minister to conduct the audit or not.”
He added the performances of the national athletes are expected to continue to improve at each edition of the competition, considering the continually increasing amount of public funds used to develop sports in Malaysia.
“Of course we want to see a return on investment. The more you invest, the more you will want to see in returns but unfortunately that has not been the case.
“It comes back to long term planning. Now the four years (of preparation) are up. There was not much I could do as it was ongoing but now we have another four years to prepare for the Gold Coast (2018 Commonwealth Games) and Jakarta (2018 Asian Games) and we have to get it right as it is difficult to change it midway.
“Give me a bit of time to fix this.”
Khairy, however, said that setting a fixed target at the start of the four-year programme would be unrealistic.
“Each programme (for specific sports) does have goals from the beginning but to give a specific target at the start would be unrealistic.
“We have to take into account injuries, availability and the form of the athletes going into the competition and this can only be done closer to the event when external factors could come into play.
“For example, at the Commonwealth Games we had to revise our target after Lee Chong Wei was injured. We did not revise it after Pandelela Rinong got injured. Maybe we should have.
“However in the past, our (finalised) targets usually do not deviate far from the initial target.”
A total of 20 athletes will compete in 10 sports at the Youth Olympics in China on Aug 16-28. Former national badminton player Wong Pei Ty will lead the Malaysian contingent as chef-de-mission.
Pandelela won two silver, Malaysia’s only medals, in the diving competition at the inaugural games in Singapore four years ago.