sports

Faizal Clarifies Paralympics Coach Was Not Dropped Except That His Contract Not Renewed

The Youth and Sports Minister explained that it's not his job to determine whether to extend a contract or not.

Cover image via Bernama/Free Malaysia Toiday & Zulfachri Zulkifli/Utusan Malaysia

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Paralympics coach R Jeganathan was not dropped by the National Sports Council (NSC) except that his contract had ended and was not renewed, according to Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Faizal Azumu

Speaking during a press conference in Ipoh today, 22 January, Ahmad Faizal said NSC has decided to not extend Jeganathan's contract as they wanted a new coach to train their athletes on a long-term basis.

The decision was made by the Council, who know better than me. It's not my job to tell them otherwise.
Ahmad Faizal Azumu

He explained that it's not his job to determine whether to extend a contract or not.

Faizal's remarks come after Paralympic gold medallist Ridzuan Mohd Puzi broke down at an interview while urging to reinstate Jeganathan as his coach as he aims to compete in the 2024 Paralympics

Speaking to Astro Arena recently, the Paralympic gold medallist became emotional when asked about the news that Jeganathan's contract may not be extended by NSC.

"Coach Jega understands me. He promised to fight with me in Paris. Coach Jega, please return to us. We'll make a comeback at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games," he said while holding back tears.

Ridzuan, who is nicknamed Mr Dash for his speed, has trained under Jeganathan since 2008 and they have won several accolades together. The biggest moment was when Ridzuan brought home gold in the 100m T36 event at the Rio 2016 Games, becoming the first-ever Malaysian Paralympic gold medallist.

Jeganathan with Ridzuan after he won the first-ever gold at the Rio 2016 Games.

Image via Gempak

However, the Sports Minister said that the national Paralympics sprinter was one of the athletes who had initially agreed to the decision to not extend Jeganathan's contract.

"When he was interviewed by the media, he may have felt emotional about the split as he had spent so much time with Jeganathan," he said, adding that in sports or politics, coaches and ministers come and go.

"More importantly, it is for sports to continue. I hope our athletes will continue to do well for the country."

He also said that while he is open to criticism over the recent issues involving sports in the country, people should not be too 'negative'

According to Faizal, ministers make for an easy target for everyone.

"A minister can accept responsibility but criticism may not be necessary unless it's constructive criticism for the sake of everyone. But if the criticism is just for the sake of criticising, if it's more to political interests and to bring sports into it, I think it is unbecoming," he was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.

Yesterday, the Badminton Association of Malaysia slapped a two-year ban on 23-year-old Lee Zii Jia, who recently quit the national team:

Amidst this, a former Paralympic swimmer, who brought glory and recognition to Malaysia, has been left to fend for herself on the streets: