The 97 athletes selected for the Youth Sports Ministry’s Podium Programme are set to receive the most intensive sports science care ever.

Programme Director Tim Newenham said, sports science personnel from various disciplines have been lined up to back the athletes to ensure Malaysia’s success at major sporting events, with the bigger goal being to bag the country’s first Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“Nothing is being spared to prepare the athletes physically and mentally for the major sporting events,” he added. Physiotherapists and masseurs will ensure athletes fully recovered after their rigorous training and ready for the following day.

“The physiologist and bio mechanist will be responsible to ensure that aspects like muscle balancing, increasing speed of movement, strengthening and conditioning are all covered.

“Sports psychologists will work to ensure every athlete is mentally prepared for their events, while a nutritionist, advices food intake and weight management,” he told Bernama in an exclusive interview at the National Sports Institute (NSI), here, today.

The former athlete, coach and performance director for British Shooting believes that with a good system and structure, the Podium Programme will be sustainable in producing high level athletes with promising results, well beyond the 2020 Olympics.

According to Tim, the most important aspects for the athletes who had qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics at moment is tapering.

Tapering is reducing the volume of training before a competition and be fresh to produce best performance during the competition.

“One of the thing we learnt about the mistakes people around the world makes during the last five or six Olympics is people only train too much when get closer to the event. We know a lot of people thinking they qualified and need to do more training.

“The trick is to maintain quality not quantity. So what really matters is they must know when they need to peak,” he said.

In the case of national badminton icon Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Newenham said the sports science team will communicate with the ace shuttler, his coach Hendrawan and Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) technical director, Morten Frost to help Chong Wei secure the elusive Olympics gold medal at the Rio Olympics in Brazil.

“We respect his (Chong Wei) achievement, we will listen to him and identify where we can add value for him, even for one or half percent of his performance. He has an advanced training programme in badminton and already at a very high level as Olympic silver medalist.

“The time is very short, now generally is not the time to change anything, now is the time to work to plan and stick to it,” he said.

During the launch at the National Sports Council (NSC) in Bukit Jalil, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamuluddin announced that 97 athletes and 36 coaches from 21 sports have been shortlisted for the programme based on the set criteria.

Among the athletes selected for the programme are Chong Wei, Datuk Nicol David (squash), Mohd Azizulhasni Awang (cycling), Pandelela Rinong (diving), Mohd Hafifi Mansor (weightlifting) and Fairul Izwan Abdul Muin (lawn bowls).

From the 97 athletes, 27 of them are para-athletes from archery, athletics, badminton, cycling, swimming, sailing and powerlifting. – BERNAMA

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