Malaysian athletes of mixed parentage from overseas with good performance track records may be considered to represent the national contingent in the hunt for medals at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The 2024 Paris Gold Programme Monitoring Committee chairman, Mohamad Norza Zakaria, said this was one of the topics discussed at a meeting yesterday.
"The committee is open to the possibility of identifying athletes based overseas who have family ties and origins from Malaysia with a current performance level that matches those at the world level," he said in a statement.
For example, mixed-parentage footballers like Brendan Gan, Matthew Davies, Darren Lok and Corbin Ong have long featured for the Harimau Malaya while the likes of Gambia-born Mohamadou Sumareh, Brazil-born Guilherme de Paula and Kosovo-born Liridon Krasniqi have also starred for the national team as naturalised players.
Meanwhile, the committee also decided to tighten the selection criteria of athletes for the world’s biggest sporting arena by focusing specifically on the types of sports, events and athletes capable of realising Malaysia’s dream of winning an Olympic gold medal in Paris 2024.
"One of the selection criteria for the 2024 Paris Gold Programme that we discussed is that they must have won a medal in Tokyo 2020 and be ranked among the top 10 in the world.
"Their achievements in winning medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asiad will also be the basis of our selection, as well as having a convincing recent performance," he said.
Norza said the best support services like coaching, training programmes and international-level competition exposure as well as assistance in terms of science, technology and sports medicine would be provided to the athletes selected for the programme in their chase for the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
The National Sports Council (NSC) has also been asked to look at the possibility of using technical expertise that can mobilise the best training programmes and support services, including in terms of performance lifestyle, to ensure that athletes can perform to the best of their abilities and display a high fighting spirit.
"The committee will also give attention to the development and effectiveness of several research projects, especially those headed by the National Sports Institute (NSI) that are aimed at enhancing the performance of athletes under the 2024 Paris Gold Programme," he added.
He said the NSC would hold a 2024 Paris Gold Programme Planning Workshop on Oct 24 for representatives from associations, coaches and athletes, with the feedback to be presented at the second meeting of the Monitoring Committee in November.
The other members of the committee are NSC director-general Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, NSI CEO Ahmad Faedzal Md Ramli and national badminton legend Lee Chong Wei, with several more members expected to be appointed later.