`First-timers’ contribute huge chunk of gold, silver medals won in Perak — Abd Karim

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 24: About 42 per cent of the gold medals and 33 per cent of silver medals that Sarawak won in the recent Sukma XIX in Perak were contributed by first-timers.

In revealing this, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah believed this new pool of athletes could deliver more gold medals to the state if given proper training as well as exposure.

“As you know, last year we have also revived Sukan Sarawak or SukSar, in short. My ministry had revived the organising of SukSar with the main aim of providing a good avenue for our young athletes to compete in a high-level sports carnival,” he said at the appreciation ceremony for the medalists and the Sarawak Contingent to Sukma Perak 2018 at a leading hotel here today.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, who was accompanied by his wife, Datin Patinggi Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang, officiated at the ceremony.

Abdul Karim (centre) presenting incentives to a squad for their achievements in the recent Sukma.

“I am also pleased to announce that 19 per cent or 172 of our athletes who competed in Sukma Perak were those from SukSar, and they had performed well despite being first timers there. They had contributed a total of 14 medals from the seven different sporting events that they competed in,” he added.

Highlighting that 73 per cent of Sarawak’s present pool of athletes were still eligible to compete in the next Sukma to be held in Johor in 2020, he emphasised that it meant Sarawak’s challenge for future games rested on their shoulders, and they could be better trained before the big day comes.

Even though Sarawak did not achieve its target to emerge champion but only managed to secure fourth placing in Perak,  Abdul Karim reassured that Sarawak’s quest for supremacy in the games was certainly not over yet.

“Instead, we will become more diligent, and we will be determined to become the next champion. We will not stop to rest, and together with our athletes, we are now more resolute to achieve better results in the next Sukma. It is actually less than two years away.

“Make sure that you polish yourself for the next games, and if you can’t get medals this year, make sure to get medals in the next Sukma,” he urged.

On the post-mortem that had been conducted on the Sarawak Contingent’s performance in Sukma Perak, Abdul Karim said there were many interesting revelations that could help improve the athletes’ performance in the future.

“There will be more physical conditioning programme. This is a new initiative that is aligned to specific sports that contribute the most medals in the next Sukma. This is to better prepare our athletes for the future and to boost their physical capabilities,” he explained.

Another plan, he shared, was for Athletes and Coaches’ Performance Profiling, which is in line with the latest development in sports science and athletes management system.

“We can actually go digital in this aspect and to adopt similar approaches that are widely practised in developed countries such as in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the UK,” he said.

With a range of indoor and outdoor sports facilities centred at the Sports Complex in Petra Jaya, he added that there were plans to expand the area with many more facilities, including a sports village with accommodation, a high-performance sports centre as well as converting a nearby school into a sports school.

“To build up the sports facilities will cost billions of ringgit, and these are all in the pipeline because it is our vision to turn Sarawak into a sports powerhouse. I believe we are on the right track plus the cabinet has approved the Sarawak village, which will be constructed soon,” he elaborated.

In his congratulatory note to the athletes, Abdul Karim also reminded them, especially those who are eligible for the next Sukma, to continue working hard and aim higher.

“National games achievement will be your stepping stone. We want to see more Pandelela Rinong … we want to see Sarawak athletes going very very far and not just achievers and champions but one day to the Olympics.

“That’s why we have all these programmes and plans to produce world champions and athletes from Sarawak,” he concluded.

At the ceremony, the state government gave out RM397,000 worth of incentives for the Sarawak Contingent for bringing home 42 gold medals, 36 silver medals and 60 bronze medals from Sukma Perak 2018.

Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports, who was also the chef-de-mission, Datuk Snowdan Lawan and Sarawak Sports Corporation chief executive officer Dr Ong Kong Swee were among those present. — DayakDaily