Publication : MM
Date : 24/03/2006
Headline : Officials who do more ill than good
OVERZEALOUS officials can be detrimental to an athlete's future.
It is without doubt, officials, be the coaches, managers, fitness
trainers or even masseurs, have an important role to play in an athlete's
These officials not only play the role of a trainer or manager, but
also act as a parental figure for their charges - be it in terms of
moulding the athlete's character, promotion and, more importantly, in
dealing with the media.
There is an old saying in sports journalism that sports journalists can
make or break an athlete's career.
However, it is wrong to assume that these scribes are vindictive and
bear grudges so much so they are out to destroy an athlete's career.
More often than not, it is the athletes themselves who run foul of the
sports journalists after showing a weak character in handling the media
by saying the wrong things, and realising their mistakes too late when
the damage has been done.
Of course, inept officials also play a role in making things bad for
Basically, it is a question of both the athletes and officials not
being taught on handling the media.
And it happened at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Melbourne early
this week, when National Sports Council (NSC) masseur Ronald Fauvel irked
the print media after leading Nicol David to a hurried exit despite
reporters fielding questions following her semi-final defeat by
Australia's Natalie Grinham.
Only the timely intervention by NSC director-general, Dr Ramlan Aziz,
who brought back Nicol for the interview, defused what would have been a
timeout for the media to lash out at the player.
But the damage was done because Fauvel, who later claimed that Nicol
had suffered cramps during her match and they needed to be treated by
rushing her onto the exercise cycle, had actually stopped to give the
electronic media an interview.
Probably, Fauvel decided Nicol's cramps were not that bad after all
because there was an opportunity for him to appear on television!
Whatever the reason, Fauvel had compounded the situation with his
overzealousness and attempt to look very important because he was with a
Would he have acted in the same manner if she was just another ordinary
or up-and-coming athlete?
As for Nicol, I sincerely doubt she had snubbed the media, but was
merely following Fauvel's instructions.
I am not taking sides or favouring Nicol, but am making a judgement
based on my interview with her in Malaysia soon after she had won the
In fact, Nicol caught me by surprise with her maturity and ability to
analyse her position after winning the title, as Malaysian athletes
generally cannot handle pressure and cannot positively chart their
She was prepared to take a dip this year, as she admitted she was
surprised at her feat as she had not planned for it.
Nicol knew she still had a long way to go in the game, and there would
be ups and downs.
Above all, Nicol knew the pressure she would be facing after winning
the world title and was also prepared for media attacks from those who
really did not understand her predicament.
All in, here was a young lass, prepared for the worst, as she tried her
best to remain on top, but was prepared to regain the position through
sheer hard work and determination, if she fell.
Thus, generally, the media would not have hounded her for her exit from
the semi-finals in Melbourne and all they wanted was her version for her
Yesterday, there was another case of overzealous officials at the
Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Yeo Ken Nee was withdrawn midway in the men's 3m springboard final
because he could not continue as his fever got the better of him.
Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said (right) was furious at the
officials deciding to field Ken Nee, which put his life at risk.
This is a case of not only our athletes lacking professionalism, but
the officials too.
And it all boils down to a lack of proper education of professionalism
among athletes from young. As for officials, they are also not properly
trained on how to handle their charges.
Next week, I will focus on England's Michael Owen's visit to Malaysia
as a 17-year-old for the 1977 World Youth Cup, which could shed some
light on what character building is all about and the responsibility of