THE Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BDNOC) has called on national sports associations to take athlete development “seriously”.
The umbrella body of the more than 30 national sports associations in the country, BDNOC made the comment in light of the news that the Brunei Darussalam National Badminton Association (BDNBA) did not shoulder any of the cost for national shuttler’s Jaspar Yu Woon Chai (pic) expenses to compete in Rio Olympics qualifiers.
Yu — the first Bruneian to compete in badminton in the Olympics — was assigned one of the three Tripartite Commission Invitation places by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in May and entered this month’s Rio Olympics as the lowest ranked competitor at 407.
The shuttler competed in qualifiers in Thailand, New Zealand and China — where he lost to two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan in the first round of the China Masters — before attending a two-week training camp hosted by the Badminton Asia Confederation in Kuala Lumpur and going on a month-long training stint with the Yonex Japan badminton team in Tokyo.
Completing the Rio Olympics team which returned last Tuesday were national 100m record holder Md Fakhri Ismail and sprinter Maizurah Abdul Rahim — who participated under the universality places quota which the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) opens to countries with no qualified athletes.
“All of the sports associations, not only the two respective associations (BDNBA and the Brunei Darussalam Athletics Federation), need to play serious roles in developing their athletes (including national athletes and those under sports development programmes),” said BDNOC in an e-mail interview with The Brunei Times.
“Based on our knowledge, our badminton athlete had to play in many tournaments in order to gain points to improve his world ranking before he could be invited.
“He did it all on his own expense as well as with support from sponsors. This burden should be shared amongst the athlete and association. However, we were made to understand the association only gave endorsement for his participation.
“The commitment, dedication and relentless effort made by the badminton athlete in making sure his dream to play in the Olympics was commendable, and this should be an example for other young athletes out there,” added BDNOC.
Yu went down 21-16, 21-15 to World No 12 Hu Yun of Hong Kong in his Group D men’s singles event before falling 21-12, 21-10 to World No 34 Pablo Abian of Spain in his second game. Fakhri progressed to the first round of the men’s 100m event after clocking 10.92s in his preliminaries, going on to run 10.95s in Heat 1 of the tournament proper. The sprinter became Brunei’s fastest man when he ran 10.59s at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore in June last year.
Competing in the women’s 200m event, Maizurah crossed the line with a time of 28.02s in Heat 8 of the opening round to finish at the end of the 72-competitor field – just short of her personal best of 27.85s she ran at the Philippines Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) Philippine Open in April.
Despite not returning with a medal, BDNOC was satisfied with the trio’s display but said there was no room for complacency. “From what we saw, we believed all athletes did their best during their respective competitions. This shows that all athletes have fulfilled part of their promise to give their best effort,” said BDNOC.
“Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement provided they continue to put in more effort and strengthen their mental toughness for future competitions. “The council expects them to work harder and continue with their training for future competition which Brunei Darussalam will take part in besides other competitions that each respective association (BDNBA and BDAF) has already planned for their athletes.
“In order to nurture the athletes further, all stakeholders must work hand in hand as a team to achieve just one goal — bring glory to Brunei Darussalam. “If one of the stakeholders fail to deliver, it will definitely affect the end result. I hope the private sector will continue to assist our national athletes or our national sports development programmes.”