Monday, May 27

Chief wants swimming and athletics to be given due recognition

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KUALA LUMPUR: President of Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) and Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim wants swimming and athletics to be given due recognition just like football because both are also popular sports in the country.Swimming and athletics contributed 21 out of the 40 gold medals at the Laos SEA Games but it was football, which won gold after a 20-year drought, that received all the attention, lamented Shahidan.

“Athletes from Asum contributed 15 gold medals … nine in swimming and six in diving while athletics chipped in six, the second highest contri-bution.

“So, if football, which won one gold medal can be considered for financial assistance, then we (swimming and athletics) should also be considered.

“Imagine how slighted and belittled athletes in the two sports would have felt when the government announced a grant of RM10 million for the development of football at grass-roots level and nothing for swimming or athletics,” he told Bernama here yesterday.

Shahidan added that though many considered football as a popular sport, there was no denying that swimming and athletics were equally popular and needed to be developed.

“I will hold a dialogue with Asum and MAAU officials over the matter because the morale of many coaches and officials is very low.

“The meeting is aimed at boosting their spirits,” he said.

The former Perlis Menteri Besar was however, happy with the review of the incentive scheme for athletes announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Tuesday.

Shahidan had earlier raised the issue of incentives for athletes because the amount was relatively the lowest in the Asean region.

“Over the past 20 years, swimming and athletics have won hundreds of gold at the SEA Games and even won medals at higher-level competitions,” he said. — Bernama