Minister unfazed by Olympic swimmer’s decision to turn down coaching offer

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman says he respects Bart Kizierowski’s decision to turn down the coaching offer.

SHAH ALAM: Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman is unfazed by the decision of former Olympic swimmer Bart Kizierowski to turn down an offer to train Malaysian swimmers, citing disagreement with the government’s ban on Israeli athletes.

The youth and sports minister said Malaysia still had local coaches to train the national swimmers until a new coach was found.

“We respect his decision. I have been in touch with the National Sports Council (MSN) and we still have local coaches who will take over for now,” he told a news conference after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and MSN.

In rejecting the coaching offer, Kizierowski had cited his disagreement with the government’s refusal to allow Israeli athletes to take part in sporting events in Malaysia.

“There is no place for that in sports,” the Polish coach said in a recent posting on Facebook, adding that the offer was “attractive”.

Kizierowski, who won gold at the 2006 European Championships, declined the offer just two days after the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) announced that he would replace former national swimming coach Paul Birmingham, who resigned last year.

Following the announcement of the ban on Israeli athletes, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Sunday stripped Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in Kuching in July.