THE Road to London programme is still the biggest priority, but Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek wants the 2011 Sea Games in Indonesia to also be treated more seriously with all national sports associations (NSAs) directed to prepare their best athletes for it.
This would also mean a change in the development structure of elite athletes, with the Sea Games being moved back into a list of major priorities, apart from the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympics.
"My biggest personal aim is still to hear the Negara Ku being played at the London Olympics, but to get there we must keep achieving at the Sea Games, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games," said Ahmad Shabery.
While this renewed approach to the Sea Games could mean a reduced number of back-up athletes under the Pelapis programme being given exposure in the regional meet, Ahmad Shabery said this was a matter of the back-up athletes themselves raising their game.
"If they do not raise their standards, then they will continue to be in the Pelapis programme.
"This is not only a matter of national pride but also a matter of diplomacy and respecting the hosts.
|AHMAD SHABERY CHEEK|
"They might not be too happy if we treat the Sea Games lightly and send only our back-up athletes."
He stated Vietnam as a key example, as that country has risen to be a sporting power after hosting the Sea Games in 2003.
"They are achieving success by taking the Sea Games very seriously. In the space of six years, they have become the dominant force in combat sports and are now moving way ahead of us in these areas."
He added that he will be arranging a working visit to Vietnam specifically to study the facilities and programmes involved in the development of their athletes.
"Maybe we would not have to venture too far to learn how other countries develop athletes. We might be able to learn a lot from Vietnam." NST