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The State’s Ministry
of Social Development and Urbanisation (KPSU) is on the look out for young sprinters
to be trained as professional sportsmen for the upcoming sports events in the
country. It is part of the ministry’s plan going towards building the state’s
sports machinery in the near future.
A reliable source from KPSU confirmed that the “sprint project” to identify
young students with talents and quality as a runner, has immediately kicked-off.
The hunt will start in Kuching and Miri and to be carried out to other divisions
throughout the state after that. Eyeing for young school children of primary and
lower secondary schools in rural and urban areas, it is welcomed to former sprinters
who have contributed towards the state’s or country’s sports development,
to assist in term of coaching the young runners or giving consultation as well
as moral supports.
Thus, there will be certain criteria to be followed, which would be determined
by the Sarawak Amateur Athletics Association (SAAA) It is believed that Sarawak
has a lot of potential sportsmen whose talent have not been really polished or
discovered yet and therefore, KPSU will embark on the plan, which is based on
the minister, Datuk William Mawan Ikom’s recent announcement on considering
the setting-up of sports academy.
In his announcement, he said, KPSU would embark on a comprehensive study on sports
development in Sarawak soon. Experienced consultants would be appointed to carry
out the study and to review the strengths and weaknesses in the present system
governing sports in the State. The consultants would also draw up development
strategies as well as an effective system of management to produce top class athletes.
The sports academy would focus on the development of sports science, an institutional
move that would contribute towards the development and management of sports as
an industry as much as a people-based activity in the long term. Mawan, who would
be consulting the Chief Minister on his ministry’s plan and goals also said
that the present infrastructure and facilities for sports in the state shall be
reviewed and improved, whereby the study should serve as a bigger revamping exercise
to streamline management of sports in line with the recent initiatives by the
Eight sports have been identified by the Cabinet Committee on Sports, headed by
Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, to be involved in its extensive
development programme, to achieve excellence in the international arena. The sports
are: badminton, squash, bowling, gymnastics, aquatics, athletes, hockey and football.
The deputy prime minister said, besides providing funds, the Government would
be directly involved in the development of these sports in order to win honours
for the country in major international events. Mawan, who agreed with Najib’s
statement said, support must be provided for four main areas for
sports development, which include, employment of professional staff, finance,
infrastructure for training and accountability.
Mawan believed that with the revamped system of sport management, it would be
able to bring in new talents from far including schools in the interior. Hoping
to see sports official and coaches going to schools to organise programmes and
conduct clinics, he is optimistic that he future of state’s sports is very
bright for as long as it is moving in the right direction and on the right track.
For the record, Sarawak has been three-times champion for SUKMA (Malaysian Sports)
in 1990, 1992 and 1994. However, much earlier than these years, Sarawak has already
shown its talents in sports especially in athletics. In 1964’s Tokyo Olympic
Games, a local named Kuda Ditta, was the first ever Sarawak-born athlete to qualify
for the prestigious games. Later, more sports talents emerged such as Solomon
Ismanto, Bujang Taha, Ballang Lasung, Gladys Chai, Albert Blassan, William Yeo
and Suhaili Yusuf. The next generation of Sarawakian Athletes came into sports
scene like, Jong Nyan
Chong, Jessica Lau, Lee Chiew Ha, Suhairi Salem, Wong Tee Kui (Athletics), Jong
Su Ting, Hii Ding Kiong.
Most popularly remembered are names like, Watson Nyambek and Sapok Biki, who had
done Sarawak proud with their record-breaking feat. Watson who broke the National
record of 10.46 seconds created by Dr. M. Jegathesan, clocked 10.38 seconds in
the 100 metres sprint. Meanwhile, Sapok, presented the nation with lorious moment
for being the first Malaysian ever to win a gold medal in Boxing in the Commonwealth
Games held in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.