SEA Games Review: Former Podium Chief Tim Shares His Views

We often read of unreasonable accusations against individuals in sports to get rid of them.

One such person who underwent this was Tim Newenham, the former director of the Podium Program.

After the failure at the 2018, a carefully orchestrated campaign was launched, mostly to blame Tim for the non delivery.

As a professional Tim left, resigned in a dignified manner and not once did he hit back at his detractors.

Even as the Malaysian Contingent failed in Manila, Tim remains diplomatic, penning his thoughts upon request.

His parting words in a message to me were:

“ I resigned. Genuinely. No one asked me to resign.

Worth reading my resignation letter again as it may make more sense now.”.

In the meantime this is what Tim had to say about the SEA Games.

“ Countries who have sustained success in sport have a well thought out, coordinated and agreed long term strategic plan.

These are usually between 4 and 8 years long, as it takes that length of time, with no interuptions, to see the results in athletes and teams performances at international level.

Politics and egos are the biggest threat to these programmes around the world.

If a programme is stopped, even for a few months, then the athletes fall behind the other countries who are themselves moving forward.

Defining roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and then agreeing who makes the decisions is key.

Good open and honest communication between everyone is important, so everyone knows what each other is doing and is able and willing to help each other.

Duplication and unnecessary expense is thus avoided.

Patience is needed. It takes time for an athlete to learn the skills of a sport to international level. They have to learn how to use the pressure to perform better.

It takes time for their bodies to adapt to become stronger or faster or more stable.

They also have to use their quality coach and the experienced sports scientists around them to plan, monitor and continually refine their preparations.

Applied sports science and sports medicine is contributing hugely to improvements in athlete and team performances around the world.

Athletes have to learn to push themselver further than they ever have before, often to the point of failure to learn, grow and improve from it.

Being afraid of failure, or worrying about other people’s reaction to it, means they will train and compete in their comfort zone and win at low level only, in order to avoid failure.

People become champions through winning slightly more often than losing – they never win everything on the way to the top.

Counties who succeed in sport support their athletes positively (including through the media), even when they lose (but have given 100%) as well as when they have won.

They look for an overall upward trend over time and celebrate that. Knee jerk reactions resulting in losing staff and stopping long term plans when a loss occurs, dissappointing though that is, doesn’t often feature in these countries, as they understand that the long term plan has given way to short term emotions.

Finally, successful sporting countries put their athletes at the heart of the programme.

They are treated with fairness and respect and their well be ing is of paramount importance.

There are clear policies, so they know what they have to do be be selected, what to do if there is a difficulty, who to turn to when something needs to be raised.

Decisions are made to safeguard athletes in the long term, by, for example, not putting an athlete into a competition when there is high risk of making the injury much worse and potentially ending the career of that person.

With concussion there is a high risk of death if an athlete is allowed to immediately continue in the competition or in training.

That is a price for a gold medal which is never worth paying.

Countries that succeed keep perspective.”

Note: This is NOT a paid statement or article, ha ha .