Let’s prepare early to regain Sukma glory
Posted on July 29, 2012, Sunday
SARAWAK have always been able to maintain their grip on Sukma, rarely finishing outside the top three, since becoming treble champions from 1990-2-4.
Performances, however, took a dip in the 2010 Games in Melaka where Sarawak’s sixth position flew in the face of a much-touted victory that never happened.
Sarawak’s 33 gold medals in the 13thedition that year were a big step backwards from the average of 50 gold medals won in previous Games.
It was even worse in the 14thedition last year at Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, where Sarawak finished a dismal 12th with only two gold from karate and ping pong to show for.
The redeeming factor was that the programme consisted mostly of alternative sports such as silamban, equestrian, optimist (sailing) and artistic gymnastics for which Sarawak could not field players to take part.
Gratifyingly, Sukma XV (2012) in Kuantan, Pahang, had seen some improvements. This time around, Sarawak’s gold haul rose to 42 – five shy of target – for overall fourth spot behind Terengganu (62 gold), Selangor (47 gold) and Pahang (45 gold).
We can, at least, console ourselves with having passed the 40-gold mark despite competing in 259 out of 377 events on offer – not a bad result, considering we did not take part in so many events.
Wushu has always been a dependable medal depository for Sarawak. In Kuantan, this kungfu sport amassed seven gold medals to make the state worthy overall wushu champions.
Sarawak also topped taekwondo with four gold medals and dominated swimming with a 10-gold sweep, signalling the state’s intention to return to Sukma powerhouse status in the pool.
The biggest letdown was football. Bafflingly, Sarawak continue to wallow in mediocrity in this sport despite being showered with the best facilities, including a sports school at Tabuan Jaya.
As for tennis, it did not even make the programme.
There are, of course, budding talents in the other sports but then again, whether they will develop into future champions or fall by the wayside depends entirely on how best they are brought along.
Lessons from past Sukmas are useful as we strive to reclaim our dominance and prominence in the series. For starters, we should not let ourselves again be so blinded by misplaced optimism of certain victory that we ignore the writings on the wall when they appear.
Problems such as getting the athletes to train together, especially in team sports, which had severely hampered preparations in the past, must not be repeated.
Moreover, wrangling over re-adjusting schooling schedules or obtaining leave from work should no longer be allowed as an excuse to cause teams to lose key players and compete vastly under-strength even in our traditionally strong sports.
Indequate training venues should be upgraded but certainly not too close to the Games if they were to benefit the tuning up of athletes.
It is easy to find scapegoats when things go wrong but the reality is that we have slipped and will continue to slip unless there is firm resolve to build on our resurgence at the Kuantan Games.
Cramming is a definite ‘no no’ if we want redemption in Sukma 2014-6. An early start is not only important but should also be complemented with provision of all the necessary training facilities.
In this context, the Sarawak State Sports Council and all its affiliates should heed the Chief Minister’s call to start preparing NOW for the next Sukma in Perlis
In a speech at the presentation of incentives to state Sukma medallists, Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said last-minute preparations would not help Sarawak regain Sukma glory, stressing that now is the time to identify potential athletes and groom them in a more systematic manner.
The Chief Minister challenged all the parties involved to turn weaknesses and issues encountered into strengths and solutions in the effort to bring up a strong contingent for the next Games.
Without doubt, to become Sukma champions again, we need get cracking right away. Unless we pull up our socks and roll up our sleeves now, we will end up re-telling the hard luck story the next round … and the next.
Social Development Minister Tan Sri William Mawan raised a valid point when he said Sukma should also serve as a nursery to produce Sarawak athletes for international competitions, including the Olympics, rather than just be about scrambling for medals and nothing more beyond that.
He noted that internationals like Pandelela Rinong, Bryan Nickson Lomas and Josiah Ng are proof Sarawak have the talents to become world beaters.
Indeed, to continue the legacies of these top Sarawak athletes, iron-clad determination to put their shoulders to the yoke is needed from all quarters concerned in the common quest of sports glory for state and country.