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KUCHING, Dec 16: Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s recent announcement that weightlifting, sepaktakraw and taekwondo have been dropped from the list of 19 core sports for next year’s Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Perak is likely to affect Sarawak’s overall medal count.
Sarawak is a powerhouse in taekwondo, with the sport contributing a total of 14 medals in last year’s Sukma, earning Sarawak bragging rights as overall champion in the said sports category. In the 2014 Sukma, the state came in second with seven medals behind Wilayah Persekutuan’s nine medal haul.
Weightlifting contributed a total of seven medals in the 2016 Sukma, putting Sarawak in sixth place. In 2014, the state earned six medals, and placed seventh.
Meanwhile, sepak takraw contributed one medal in 2016, and no medals in 2014.
On Wednesday, Khairy was reported by The Star as saying the decision to leave out the three sports had to be done to improve the performances of the respective sports.
Among the reasons cited, was that weightlifting had seven doping cases reported to the World Anti-Doping Agency in the last four years and the sport has not contributed even at SEA Games level, while sepaktakraw also suffered a slide in performance by the national team over the last few years.
As for taekwondo, the minister said standards have also dropped even at regional level and the fighting by different factions was still creating problems.
“This decision is not to punish them by cutting their funding but the message is that you need to buck up.
“This will be the future model for sports funding. If your sports perform well, you will be rewarded with more funding. We will do a review every two years,” Khairy was quoted as saying.
He assured that the funding for athletes who are under the Podium Programme are not affected although their sports have been dropped from the list of core sports.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah described the move to drop sepak takraw, weightlifting and taekwondo from the list of core sports in Sukma 2018 as ‘brutal’ for the sports and athletes dropped.
He told a local daily he wondered how this decision was arrived at. He also said that if athletes were found to be taking illegal drugs, the guilty individuals should be punished but the sport should not be ‘killed’.
He also said that just because of disorganised centralised sports associations, it shouldn’t be assumed that the state sports associations are also problematic and collectively punish them.
He added it was very embarrassing and demoralising for the athletes in these three affected sports. — DayakDaily