KUCHING: Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Karim Rahman Hamzah said he aims to make Sarawak a sports powerhouse that will bring glory and honour to Malaysia.
“We want to show that Sarawak can contribute not just in gas and oil to the country, but also in sports in wanting to make Malaysia proud with its achievements in sporting events,” he said at his ministry’ s dinner with the media here last night.
He said he wants to see many more athletes the likes of Pandelela Riniong (diving) and Wilson Sim (swimming) coming from Sarawak to represent the country.
Among Pandelela’s achievements were the bronze medal at the World Aquatics Championship in 2009 in Beijing and won the silver medals in the 10 m platform event and 3 m springboard event
at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore.
At New Delhi 2010, she won Malaysia’s first Commonwealth Games gold medal in an aquatic sports by winning the 10 m platform event.
She became the first Malaysian female athlete to win an Olympics medal, and the first Malaysian athlete to win an Olympics medal in a sport, besides badminton by winning a bronze medal in the Women’s 10 m platform at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
In July 2015, Pandelela made history when she became the first Malaysian to finish on the podium in an individual event in the World Aquatics Championships.
She clinched a bronze medal in the individual 10 m platform in Kazan, Russia, qualifying for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, she and Cheong Jun Hoong won the silver medal in the 10 m synchronized platform, becoming the first Malaysian women’s team to win a silver medal at the Olympics.
In honour of her achievement at the 2016 Summer Olympics, The Sarawak Aquatic Centre in Petra Jaya, Sarawak was officially named Pandelela Rinong Aquatic Centre.
Welson Sim made a record-breaking splash to win the men’s 400m freestyle at the Mare Nostrum Tour in Monte Carlo, Monaco, last month, beating reigning Olympic champion Mack Horton of Australia for the gold medal.
Sim is only the second Malaysian to win at the Mare Nostrum Tour.
Karim said in a move towards making Sarawak as a sports powerhouse, his ministry is planning to create centres of high performances in the state.
He said athletes attending the centres of high performances will be filtered for the next stage of development where sports sciences will be used to train them.
“We are going to be very detailed how we are going to produce champions,” he said, adding with the support of the people he is confident that the state can produce champions.
“We have seen how New Zealand, with a population of between three and four million, won 18 gold medals in the Olympics Games in Brazil, last year,” he said, adding that Australia which has a population with about 25 millions, has also won many gold medals in the past Olympic Games.
He said these two countries are able to achieve successes in the Olympic Games because they have created centres of high performances for their athletes.
Karim said his ministry wants to attract more national and international sports championships to Sarawak.
He said since the beginning of this year, Sarawak has hosted many national and international championships.
“Those who have been with the state sports council and the national sports council possibly have seen some obvious changes in the sporting activities and they now have more work to do,” he said, adding with the mission to make Sarawak a sports powerhouse, his ministry have been planning programmes with the aim of bring honour and glory to the state.
He said among the international championships that Sarawak has hosted are the international diving championship, world master badminton championship, Axiata Malaysia badminton open championship, and International Taekwondo championship.-dayakdaily.com