Prince disappointed over Brunei athletes’ showing
Azaraimy HH

HIS Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, President of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, expressed his disappointment on the level of performance of the nation’s athletes in regional and international games compared to what was achieved during the 1999 SEA Games in Brunei Darussalam.

As Brunei will host SEA Games in 2019 and gears up for the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, His Royal Highness yesterday called for an evaluation and made several suggestions.

His Royal Highness delivered a sabda during the National Athletes Selection and Evaluation Executive Meeting held at the Conference Room of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

His Royal Highness stressed the national athletes selected to represent the country should be competitive and capable of winning medals, adding that selection must be carefully done.

His Royal Highness said an assessment be made to find out how the country produced much better results in the 1999 SEA Games.

His Royal Highness said training methods and programmes that were followed at the time may still be relevant today and hence an assessment be made which may produce better results, especially as the country will be hosting the SEA Games again – the 30th edition – which is four years from now and four years is not far away.

His Royal Highness highlighted that issues concerning the study, training system, athletes development programme and short- and long-term national sports development plan have not been answered yet and added that he will not stop from raising this matter for the sake of national sporting development and progress.

Speaking in the context of the upcoming SEA Games in Singapore, His Royal Highness asked the respective associations to inform authorities concerned as soon as a selection decision is made and stressed that the selections are subjected to five stipulated criteria (fitness test, good disciplinary record, improvements during training, satisfactory attendance records and potential to win medals) and any additional criteria deemed suitable.

His Royal Highness said this early information is important to give enough time to plan and implement training programmes for the respective athletes, and guide them to follow the training regimen to prove their potential.

His Royal Highness also raised the issue of the number of doping cases that has alarmed him. His Royal Highness said it was a serious matter that required serious attention.

His Royal Highness mentioned that beginning January 1, 2015, a new regulation will be enforced, whereby any athlete who tests positive will be suspended for four years from joining any sports festival or competition.

His Royal Highness suggested that along with the five criteria used to select athletes, a sixth could be included which is to ensure that the athletes are free from any banned performance-enhancing drugs.

His Royal Highness told the officials to remind national athletes from time to time to not use forbidden substances, especially before competitions.

His Royal Highness called on the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council to carry out random doping tests on athletes before they are selected to represent the country.

Touching further on the five main criteria, His Royal Highness also asked the executive members to consider selecting category ‘B’ athletes – who are believed to have potential but have not reached the required level of performance – for regional or international competitions.

This is not something out of the ordinary, as it is done by several other countries, His Royal Highness added.

If athletes that show potential are not given opportunities to experience that level of competition, they may perhaps never be able to reach the level of performance that we hope them to achieve, His Royal Highness said.

Meanwhile, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hazair bin Haji Abdullah, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, said the ministry is taking seriously the level of performance of national athletes in regional or international competitions, and their failure to win gold medals.

The minister said, the benchmark is four gold medals won during the 1999 SEA Games in Brunei Darussalam. Since then, the national athletes have only been able to achieve an average of only one gold medal in the SEA Games.

In order to improve the level of achievement of our athletes in the 28th SEA Games, a dialogue session with national sports associations was held at the Indoor Stadium, Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex, which was graced by His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik.

During the session, the minister said several matters were stressed such as continued investment on elite and new athletes, their training and welfare, the need to have international level coaches and to have sophisticated and up-to-date equipment at the Sports Science and Medical Centre.

The minister said the establishment of a Sports Academy is being planned to conduct more systematic and structured training programmes for athletes. - Borneo Bulletin (19 November 2014)