Sunday March 3, 2013
by LIM TEIK HUAT
Many Malaysian athletes tend to give one-dimensional answers when questioned by the media. Why is that?
IS IT just me or do our athletes really lack decent communication skills?
A chat with my colleagues confirmed that our athletes seriously lack decent communication skills.
Iíve been covering sports for almost 15 years now and have had the privilege of interviewing athletes from various games, except for football and hockey.
Needless to say, the majority of athletes are tongue-tied when it comes to expressing their hopes, feelings and expectations.
They get uncomfortable talking to the media, be it from the print or electronic.
How often do we get quotes like ďIíll try my best, lahĒ and ďMy performance was okay, lahĒ.
These are common quotes mouthed by many athletes, including the seasoned campaigners.
The players from the mainstream sports, like football, badminton and hockey, are also generally shy when it comes to expressing themselves despite having featured in many major competitions overseas.
I shall refrain from naming anyone to avoid casting them in a bad light but Iím sure my fellow colleagues know who Iím referring to.
Itís our job to try to get a nice story, something our editor will want to highlight. But it doesnít help when we have to pad up our story.
Iíve always envied the foreign press as they find it much easier to get stories from their own athletes in the first place.
A good case in point is British star diver Tom Daley. He represented Britain at the 2008 Summer Olympics where he was his countryís youngest competitor at just 14 Ė the youngest competitor of any nationality and the youngest to participate in a final.
Daley went on to become the world champion in his pet platform discipline a year later at the World Aquatic Championships in Rome. I had the privilege of watching him being interviewed by the British press when I covered the Beijing Olympics. I came away highly impressed by his poise and demeanour in fielding the questions thrown at him. Daley was also very knowledgeable Ė able to relate his own performances from a technical point of view.
I donít think any of our divers his age will be able to do that. Again, the answer Iíd expect coming from them would be either they are happy or not happy with their performances.
It may be something to do with our education system, which emphasises on passive learning and memorising.
There are, thankfully, a few local athletes who can carry themselves well in public Ė like cyclists Josiah Ng and Azizulhasni Awang, squash star Nicol David and shuttler Koo Kien Keat.
Maybe the National Sports Council (NSC) should take the initiative and send the athletes for courses to improve on basic communication and self-confidence.
Itís not just about performing but the athletes who are serious about wanting to get noticed on the big stage must be able to market themselves too.
That, in return, will help them to secure sponsors for their sport and for themselves.
But whether they are aware of this is anybodyís guess.
StarSport senior writer Lim Teik Huat wonders why is it that athletes tend to clam up when talking to reporters but are chatty with their team-mates? Perhaps, itís the fear of being misquoted or rebuked for saying the wrong things.