KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — A comprehensive study needs to be carried out if there is a need to set an age limit for high-performance athletes, said National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail.
He said the age for high-performance athletes usually begins at 17, right after completing high school, and it would usually take three Olympic cycles or 12 years for them to reach peak performance.
“At below 17, they are still in the process of talent formation and development, we are still honing that talent. After that, (they are) just starting a competitive environment, competing with other athletes. This is when we see how far the athletes can go.
“For example, (national badminton legend) Datuk Lee Chong Wei first took part in the Olympics in 2004 (at the age of 22) and reached the top of his game at the 2016 Rio Olympics (at the age of 34 before retiring in 2019),” he said at the National Sports Vision (VSN) 2030 virtual engagement session on High-Performance Sports today.
Ahmad Shapawi said this when answering a suggestion by one of the participants regarding setting an age limit for high-performance athletes.
He said there were also sports like shooting, bowling and lawn bowls where athletes become more mature and better as they get older, thanks to the experience gained along the way.
“For example, if we want to take (those) below 24 or 25, they are not matured yet. We still have athletes aged 29 or 30 who are still able to perform well,” he said.
During the three-hour session, which involved nearly 300 participants from various levels, Ahmad Shapawi, however, admitted that there was a need to focus on the imbalance in the continued development of sports talent from school to the university level.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Shapawi said the Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS) had mobilised the Integrated Sports Management System to record data related to sports and talent development at various levels nationwide.
“Once the talent has been identified and trained, one has to key in the talent’s record, what it was like at that time, and it stays there until he retires. Initially, it will only be at the Ministry’s level but it will later be shared at all levels,” he said.
He also reminded all the national sports associations that national youth championships should be given priority and continue to be the pride of every junior athlete in the country. — Bernama