KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman has urged people to stop labelling national karate queen Syakilla Salni Jefry Krishnan as a ‘diva’.
He said critics should show understanding instead condemning an athlete who has hit a rough patch.
Sometimes people need to think about the struggles that athletes have to face in order to bounce back from poor performances or serious injuries, he said.
“In everyone’s career path there will be challenges but the question is, how do we bounce back from the challenges and how we assist them to bounce back? Do we keep condemning them to a point it becomes harder for them to bounce back or do we give them a lending hand.
“I understand that constructive criticism must be welcome in this highly competitive environment but in labelling our athletes as diva, I think it goes slightly too far. We don’t know what she’s going through, everyone has their tough time,” he told reporters here today.
Syed Saddiq pledged to continue supporting Syakilla but would monitor the athlete’s progress as her wish to train under former national coach Andris Vasiljevs has been granted.
“There will be a timeline; there will be KPIs that need to be met to ensure that the country’s investment will go well but I have faith that if we give her a second chance, she will be able to deliver,” he added.
The National Sports Council (NSC) approved Syakilla’s request yesterday but they have set two conditions — she has to train in the Klang Valley and lose weight to compete in the Under-55kg category.
The 26-year-old Syakilla, one of the bright prospects to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, has not been training with the kumite team in Bukit Jalil under Iranian coach Ali Reza Souleymani since the beginning of the year.
She has been struggling to maintain her weight and missed a few tournaments in the world circuit that offered Olympic qualifying points.
Earlier, she had requested to train under Vasiljevs in Latvia but it was shot down by the NSC.
NSC director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail said they would hire Vasiljevs on a short-term contract.
Vasiljevs was appointed in 2012 but his contract was not extended by the Malaysian Karate Federation (Makaf) after the team failed to win a gold medal at the 2018 Indonesia Asian Games. — Bernama