‘Sports bodies must answer for poor performance of Asian Games athletes’

Deputy chef de mission Dr SS Cheema says the Olympic Council Malaysia, as the umbrella body, totally depended on the sports associations to come forward to present their selected athletes. (Bernama pic)

PALEMBANG: National sports associations (NSAs) must take responsibility and be answerable for the poor performance of some athletes in the ongoing the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, said deputy chef-de-mission (CDM) Dr SS Cheema.

He said the Olympic Council Malaysia (OCM) must call up the NSAs for a post-mortem after the Games conclude on Sunday to justify their reasons for sending “totally unfit” athletes to the regional games.

He said it is important to filter and only send the deserving ones to compete to avoid Malaysian athletes from being mocked at the second biggest multi-sport event in the world after the Olympics.

“In our post-mortem, we will make some proposals for the OCM board to deliberate on the selection process, especially when you see some of the athletes from the B Category sports.

“We were assured by these NSAs that these athletes might not deliver medals or might deliver, but were prospects for the future.

“But future prospects must have certain standards. When you are practically nowhere compared with others, then things are not right.

“Did the NSAs take the best athletes to the Asian Games? Because it involves the country’s reputation and we do not want to be mocked here.

“I think those who underperformed really should be answerable now, especially the athletes who are totally unfit. In some of the sports, we saw that they were totally unfit and they did not deserve to be here,” he told Bernama.

Cheema, who is also the OCM Medical and Anti-Doping Committee chairman, was asked to comment on attacks by social media users on Fatin Syahirah Roszizi, after a video of the skater falling down numerous times during the women’s street event went viral.

On Wednesday, the 16-year-old finished last among eight contestants in the event with a mere 5.4 points at the Skateboard Stadium here.

Philippines’ Margielyn Didal claimed the gold with a superior lead of 30.4 points, while the silver went to Kaya Isa (25.0) of Japan. Host skater Bunga Nyimas (19.8) took the bronze.

After being mocked by netizens, Fatin deleted all her posts in her Instagram account and apologised to fellow Malaysians for her poor performance.

Meanwhile, when asked about the selection process, Cheema said OCM, as the umbrella body, totally depended on the NSAs to come forward to present the selected athletes.

OCM then shortlisted them for the Asian Games under either category A or B. Category A involves fully sponsored athletes while costs will be reimbursed for Category B if medals are won.

“The time frame given to us to do the selection was not enough because we were dependent on what the NSAs told us.

“Some NSAs told us that they have gone for world tours and many international tournaments.

“They said our athletes have been to Asian level (meets), won prizes and were medal prospects.

“So, we trusted and believed them but it seems like things do not work this way.

“We must have enough time and change how these selections are done,” he said.