Catch-up plan for OKU athletes needed

Fatimah (fourth left) visits the OKU athletes during their training session. Photo: Munirah Zhamri

KUCHING: There needs to be a catch-up plan for athletes with disabilities (OKU athletes) in their preparation for the upcoming Malaysia Para Games (Para Sukma) and National Deaf Games (Sopma) 2022 games.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said this was because they had been training at home for an extended period due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Some of our athletes have gained weight. Some have said that their muscles are already stiff.

“So the coaches need to take into account a catch-up plan so that all our athletes will be at their maximum fitness level and be able to meet our targets,” she said.

Fatimah signs the attendance book at the Youth and Sports Complex. Photo: Munirah Zhamri

Fatimah said this during her visit to the Youth and Sports Complex yesterday (Mar 31) to attend the OKU athletes’ training session in preparation for the Para Sukma and Sopma 2022 games.

“Training at home is different compared to training face-to-face,” she explained.

She said at the complex, coaches could provide face-to-face guidance rather than online guidance. In addition, she said the complex had various facilities available to assist in the training process.

She added the athletes had been undergoing home training until Mar 15, when they were allowed to resume training at the Youth and Sports Complex. Before that, training at the complex initially resumed from September to December last year, but this was stopped due to the rise in Covid-19 cases.

Fatimah tries some of the equipment at the Youth and Sport Complex’s gym. Photo: Munirah Zhamri

“When they are training as a group at the complex, they will be able to motivate and support one another and thus be able to achieve their objectives and targets,” said Fatimah.

She emphasised that for face-to-face training to proceed, the athletes needed to comply strictly with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure their own safety and that of others.

“With that, they will be able to continue training and preparing themselves for Para Sukma which will be held in Johor next year,” she said.

She said all the OKU athletes gathered here were potential medallists – be it gold, silver, or bronze – adding that the state’s goal was to emerge as champion for the 14th consecutive time in Para Sukma 2022 and to achieve higher than third place for Sopma 2022.

As for targeted medals, she said the targets for Para Sukma 2022 were  60 gold, 45 silver, and 30 bronze medals while the target was six gold medals for Sopma 2022.

Also present were Assistant Minister of Community Wellbeing Datuk Francis Harden Hollis and Matthew Chin, head of the OKU development unit of the Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Ministry.