Friday, July 1, 2016

Chef de mission sets pace for Rio


 Olympics chef de mission, Tan Sri Mohamed Al Amin Abdul Majid, has shown full committment in ensuring a high standard for the Rio-bound team managers and coaches.
The acting president of the Badminton Association of Malaysia is leaving no stone unturned in getting to know each team, watching the athletes in training and finding out for himself their preparations for the Olympics.
On Wednesday, after meeting the sailing and diving team in the morning, Mohamed Al Amin attended a special briefing on safety, health, anti-doping and the dos and don’ts of the Games for the Malaysian contingent to the Olympics and Paralympics before chairing the 2nd team managers meeting for the XXXI Olympic Games in Bukit Jalil.
In his opening address, the chef de mission made it very clear to the team officials that they were responsible for their athletes being in the best frame of mind, that they were well prepared for the challenge ahead and ensuring that everything aspect of the athletes' well-being was looked into.
He said as much as Malaysia wanted to return with medals, no one could criticise those athletes who had tried their best at the Games.
There were 13 Olympic-bound athletes, eight para athletes, nine coaches and 30 officials (including team managers) at the briefing.
The presentation was very educational, especially on the Zika virus threat, yellow fever (doctors from the Ministry of Health), safety measures (Royal Malaysian Police Special Branch) and medical services provided by the National Sports Institute (NSI) medical team led by Dr Arshad Tuji.
However, whether the points made at the presentation and briefing reach the ears of the athletes and officials who were not present because of training or competition schedules remains to be seen.
The National Sports Council (NSC), NSI and Olympic Council of Malaysia have covered all key aspects of the upcoming trip to Rio in the hope of an incident-free Malaysian participation.
But all that will come to naught if the team managers and coaches present at the seminar do not deliver the message to their athletes.
OCM secretary-general Datuk Low Beng Choo also reminded the team managers that their roles were not ceremonial and that they were named for the Games because they had the capability to manage their athletes.
Still, it is sad that archery still has unresolved issues with their leadership of the association and it is hoped that this will not affect the management of the athletes or their performance.
Then, there are the concerns as to whether the contingent can bring food from home to Rio or eat at a Malaysian restaurant there.
The Olympic Village has an international array of cuisine and halal food and if Malaysian athletes and officials are still concerned about having home-cooked food and instant noodles, it does not speak well of our sportsmen and women.
The contingent have to go to Rio with a positive attitude, expect the best and be ready for whatever challenge that is thrown their way. Negative thoughts are only going to undermine their mental strength.
It is hoped that the team officials going to Rio play their role of supporting the athletes well but please do not make excuses for them.
To date, 26 athletes from ten disciplines – archery, cycling, diving, swimming, sailing, shooting, athletics, badminton, open-water swimming and weightlifting – have qualified for the Games. Six more are pending – two men and two women from golf, one wildcard from athletics (female) and one wildcard (women) from swimming – which would finalise the Malaysian squad at 32.
It is a small contingent, so managing them without any untoward incident should be a breeze.
Al Amin is working very hard to ensure that everything is in order before the contingent leaves for Rio and has implemented standard operation procedures for all. And with the NSC, NSI and OCM working equally hard to ensure that everything goes smoothly, the last thing that is needed is for the team officials to slip up.
Team officials must be reminded that this trip to Rio is not a holiday or a reward. They will be there to serve the athletes and to ensure that all directives are strictly adhered to. They must also motivate and guide the athletes so that they deliver the best results possible.
All athletes will return a day after the completion of their event to avoid any problems in managing them after the event and also for their own safety, both health and security wise.
With everything in place and a slightly a month before the Games, it is hoped that nothing is done to derail whatever has been planned so meticulously by the relevant authorities.
The Journey to Rio is all set for flag-off and it is hoped that every effort is made by both the officials and athletes to ensure nothing mars the last leg of their preparations.

TONY is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​

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