WILL PODIUM DO THE TRICK?

Malaysia’s Podium Programme

 

Congratulations to the young and energetic Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sports, The Hon. Mr. Khairy Jamaluddin, for the successful, inspiring and motivational launch of the Malaysia’s Podium Programme for Malaysian sports.

 

The objectives of the Podium Programme are quite straightforward: 

• win Malaysia’s first Olympic Games gold medal in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,
• restore top 10 finish in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Jakarta 2018 Asian Games, 
• have 10 athletes in world top 6 ranking and 
• sustainable sporting excellence beyond 2020.  

 

The above programme is a safe and no-fail programme, because the objectives have always been there and have been achieved in the past and will be achieved with or without the Podium Programme. 

 

The first objective of winning Malaysia’s first Olympic Games gold medal is not realistic. Why not in Rio 2016 Olympic Games?  For 2016, there is Dato’ Lee Chong Wei, who has a realistic chance of winning the Badminton Singles gold medal. 

 

By 2020, with the retirement of Dato’ Lee Chong Wei, there is really no Badminton player in sight, (compared to the young players of Japan, China, etc.), who has the potential to win the gold medal.  It is the same with other sports, although if Karate is approved for Tokyo 2020, there are hopes.  Can the Podium Programme produce an Olympic Games gold medal in 2020, when Malaysia has even given up hope for winning in 2016, even before the Olympic Games? 

 

The table below show the medal tally of the Malaysia Contingent in the last 5 Asian and Commonwealth Games from 1998 to 2014.

 

 

    COMMONWEALTH GAMES

          ASIAN GAMES

 

Gold

Silver

Bronze

      Rank*

Gold

Silver 

Bronze

      Rank*

 

 

 

 

Gold

Total

 

 

 

Gold

Total

2014

6

7

6

12

12

5

14

14

14

13

2010

12

9

14

5

5

9

18

14

10

10

2006

7

12

10

8

7

8

17

17

11

9

2002

7

9

18

8

7

6

8

16

12

10

1998

10

13

12

4

4

6

10

14

11

11

• Rank: Gold – based on total gold medal tally.
• Rank: Total – based on total medal tally.

 

The table above shows that except for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Malaysia was ranked in the top 10 from 1998 to 2010, in both gold medal tally and total medal tally, with the best ranking being in 1998 when Malaysia was the host. For the Asian Games, the best ranking was 10 in the 2010 Asian Games with the worst in 2014 with a ranking of 14. If the ranking is based on total medal tally, then Malaysia is in the top 10 in 3 out of the 5 recent Asian Games, with one ranking of 11.  

 

As such the targets set by Podium Programme for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games are too low, as they have already been achieved in past Games. A more realistic target would be not to consider the ranking, but to use a target of 15 gold medals and 50 total medals, or ranked 8thand 9th for the Malaysian Contingent in both the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Asian Games, respectively. The reason for this is that the Podium Programme is a massive programme with at least 70 staff, comprising experts in all fields, both foreign and local, while in the past Games, the same targets were achieved without very much less staff and budget. 

 

The third objective of having 10 athletes in world top 6 ranking is also rather vague as Malaysia has already achieved more than this target today.  The athletes who have achieved 6th place or better world ranking are Dato’ Nicol David, Dato’ Lee Chong Wei, Divers, Track cyclists Azizulhasni, Archers, Lawn Bowls athletes, Sepaktakraw athletes, Karate athletes, etc. Here again the Podium Programme has set itself a target that has been achieved over the last 10 years at least. 

 

The condition that proven medallists in the Olympic, Asian and Commonwealth Games would be included in the Podium Programme, is rather puzzling.  Although they are proven medallists, some of them could be past their prime by 2018 and 2020. The terms and conditions for young and promising athletes, who are not proven medallists in the Olympic, Asian and Commonwealth Games, for inclusion in the Podium Programme, have not been specified.  This may well prove to be the Achilles’ heel of the Podium Programme

 

In the case of Team Sport, the Men’s Hockey team has won medals in past Commonwealth Games and Asian Games (not gold).  They have the potential of achieving a podium finish in the Cold Coast and in Jakarta.  Any chance of the Men’s Hockey Team being included? 

 

In conclusion, except for objective 1, winning the Olympic Games gold medal in 2020, the Podium Programme is a NO FAIL programme, for reasons stated above.  At the end it would be really difficult to evaluate and as such it would be deemed to be a success. To be fair, if any evaluation is to be done in 2020, it should be based on the amount of funds spent on the Programme and the returns on investment, based on realistic and challenging targets and not on the targets set by the Podium Programme itself.