Saturday, April 8, 2006

Short-term goals that fell short of target (07/04/2006 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 07/04/2006
Headline : Short-term goals that fell short of target

ANOTHER post-mortem, after another outing in the sports arena, all sorts
of excuses and reasons for falling short, and promises to do better in
coming events.
What's new? It has been happening over and over of late, that it has
become like a recurring bad dream.
But what is the real issue here?
Basically, it is a case of having too big ambitions over too short a
And Malaysian sports authorities are often the guilty ones, with these
short-term goals.
Time and again, after every performance that came short of
expectations, the powers-to-be will come up with new programmes.
Nothing wrong with new programmes to make amends for previous ones
which did not live up to the mark, or fell short.
But the problem arises when these are only short-term programmes.
Let's back-track a little to get a clearer picture.
Immediately after the Athens Olympics debacle when the Malaysian
contingent returned empty-handed two years ago, we came up with the 2006
Gemilang programme and even declared that 10 golds and possibly more
would be achieved at the Doha Asian Games - better than the previous best
of seven golds at the 1966 Bangkok Asiad.
Then came along the AsiaCom project.
We hired experts, with many of them surprisingly coming from Australia.
Left out were proven personnel responsible for success in some sports.
Changes were made mid-stream.
We had the Melbourne Commonwealth Games as a testing ground for the
progress of the programmes, and again a 10-gold target was set.
Once again, we fell short, and we are back to the drawing board to find
out what went wrong, as we try to redeem ourselves eight months down the
line in Doha.
When are we going to learn that we cannot change the face and fate of
Malaysian sports with short-term programmes?
After each debacle, we are still dealing with the same athletes who
have failed and hope they would improve by leaps and bounds overnight.
They are going to compete against almost the same athletes they have
lost to, or could not even hold a candle to.
Let us not forget their opponents are only going to improve further,
and they have more catching up to do.
More often than not, we in Malaysia love to brag about our own
preparations, but do not take into account what the other countries are
doing for coming competitions.
We hardly check out our competitors' latest performances, or know what
we are up against.
We only become surprised when we meet them on the arena, pool or courts!
Yes, we do well at regional tournaments, like the SEA Games, but we
keep forgetting time and again, that they are the lowest level of sports.
In fact, if we cannot do well in the SEA Games, we have no business
spending millions of ringgit on sports.
But let us look at the bigger picture and have more realistic
Let us not be fooled time and time again by these foreign experts
telling us what our athletes can achieve, because they have to say nice
things and promise the world. Because if they do not, they will not have
a job!
It is not that our sports officials do not know of the difficult task
ahead, but it is just at times they refuse to accept it and hope a magic
wand will be waved and everything will look rosy for Malaysian sports.
It does not work that way.
We have to get back to the basics, and have long-term programmes and
stop setting gold medal targets just for the sake of setting them.
It is about time, we set long-term goals for five to 10 years, and work
towards them with a set of athletes who are focused, have the desire to
do well and bring honours to the nation through sacrifice, determination,
discipline, dedication, sweat, toil and even bleed, if needed.
Mind-sets of athletes have to be changed and tuned to what is required
to produce champions.
Of course, we have a few already in the mould, and these are the
athletes who will time and again bring honours to the nation.
But we should have a bigger pool of such athletes for all the money we
are spending on sports.
Again, it is not a revamp we are looking at Malaysian sports, but a
Since even higher standards are going to be set for the Doha Asian
Games than the Commonwealth Games, we better brace ourselves for another
disappointment. This is because it is going to take a miracle to see the
majority of our athletes who have not been doing well, to turn into
overnight champions!
Let us start looking at long-term plans, with realistic targets, and
also with sports that are capable of meeting international challenges,
and end our wishful thinking.

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