Collector's items treated with disdain
Friday, November 01, 2013 - The Malay Mail
No excuse they give can justify their discarding the Malaysian “uniform”. On top of that, sponsored goods and medical supplies were left behind in the rooms.
This goes to show how little regard the officials and athletes had for the equipment given to them by sponsors and paid for by taxpayers’ money. They take for granted the luxuries accorded them in sports and behave like a pampered lot.
And to make matters worse, the results produced by the athletes are nothing to shout about.
What I cannot understand is how these officials and athletes could throw away official attire that had the national flag embroidered on it. And it is the Olympics we are taking about.
This brings me to the excuse national diver Yeoh Ken Yee gave for leaving behind the official baju Melayu used in the march-past: he thought he would not be using it again and that it could be better used by others (did he mean the people who would have cleaned the rooms after the Games ended?).
His reason is rubbish, of course. It is common for us Malaysians to wear our country’s various traditional costumes, especially when we celebrate our many festivals. Second, the official attire is a collector’s item. I cannot believe Yeoh did not want to keep his for posterity.
My colleague Haresh Deol proudly wore his late father’s wedding tie for his own recently. That is how most people treasure items of sentimental value.
As a journalist, we did not have the luxury of being given blazers, tracksuits, shoes or bags when we get a rare chance to cover the Olympics — which normally is once in a lifetime chance. I had the opportunity to cover the 2000 Sydney Olympics and till today I have the Media Village room key holder which was given to us as a souvenir at the end of the Games.
Yeoh is now a diving coach. So, what kind of inspiration is he going to be to his wards?
Even I have three sets of baju Melayu which I used when I was with the Sports and Tourism Ministry and I still use them whenever the opportunity arises.
Cycling coach John Beasley left behind his official suit and his excuse was that he and his team had come to London from training in Europe and were not returning to Malaysia after the Games.
The suit, made by one of the high-end tailors in the country, would have easily cost RM1,000. Maybe, Beasley has expensive tastes, but the fact remains that it was a Malaysian blazer with the national fl ag on it and it was left behind. And we don’t even want to talk about the public funds wasted.
Malaysian officials and athletes seriously don’t know how lucky they are compared with athletes even from developed countries.
I know for a fact that athletes from Australia and New Zealand have to fi nd the money for their air tickets for the Commonwealth Games and when they win medals, all they get is a handshake and a certificate.
Here in Malaysia, not only is everything taken care of – from training both at home and overseas, food and lodging and medical care and supplements to allowances – but athletes are also handsomely rewarded with cash for medals won.
We have heard of athletes who come to the Olympics with minimum sports equipment or none at all, some of them even running barefooted.
The way Canadian athletes fund their Olympic dreams includes knitting toques and writing cookbooks. Others do part-time jobs, share lodgings and hold fundraisers to help fund their athletic training and travel.
Here in Malaysia, officials and athletes pay for nothing and make no sacrifices. No wonder they don’t value the good things that come their way.
It is about time the Olympic Council of Malaysia or the National Sports Council stopped providing official attire for Games for free. Either make the athletes and officials pay for it or make the respective sports associations pick up the tab. In this way, there will be some form of responsibility and accountability.
In a nutshell, make the officials and athletes realise nothing comes for free.
TONY MARIADASS is sports editor of
The Malay Mail. He can be reached
The Malay Mail. He can be reached