National sports bodies struggling with lack of exposure for athletes in international meets

National sports bodies struggling with lack of exposure for athletes in international meets

KUALA LUMPUR: Difficulty in providing exposure at international championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the main challenge currently faced by many national sports associations, said National Sports Council (NSC) Athletes Division director Jefri Ngadirin.

He acknowledged that the pandemic had forced national coaches to revamp training and competition programmes for their athletes, including those under the Podium Programme.

He said all national athletes are training as usual at several venues around the Klang Valley, including at the National Velodrome in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan and the Langkawi National Sailing Training Centre, as preparations for several international championships this year and in 2022.

They include the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (July 23-Aug 8, 2021), the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam (Nov 21-Dec 2, 2021), the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games in England (July 28-Aug 8) and the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in China (Sept 10-25).

“They are training as usual… our challenge is trying to find opportunities for exposure in competitions overseas,” he said in an online interview with Bernama Radio’s Nazira Noran.

Jefri also said that the NSC, with the assistance of the National Sports Institute (NSI), would continue to monitor the eating habits of national athletes who are training at various quarantine-based centres or at home.

He said this was to ensure they do not put on weight when they report to their respective sports training camps after the current Movement Control Order (MCO) ends.

The Podium Programme is a high-performance plan under the Youth and Sports Ministry that began in 2016 to help achieve Malaysia’s dream of winning a first gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and to emerge among the top 10 teams in the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

The Podium Programme was initially placed under the supervision of the NSI before its management was handed over to the NSC in October, 2018.- Bernama