Recently a reporter from The Star publicly complained that he was denied access to most Malaysian athletes in Rio Olympics — the coaches had decided our athletes are not to be distracted before their competitions, and so there would be one collective press conference beforehand, and further interviews would have to wait until after they had competed.
Seems fair enough, I leave it to coaches to decide what is required to draw the best out of their athletes. I don’t want our national athletes stressed out with the high expectations and making promises while going head to head against top athletes from the world.
I was surprised the editor of the sports desk at The Star found this whine worth publishing. It largely seemed to be “I have arrived, you owe me”.
I’ll share a few examples from the article:
“Coach John Beasley told the journalists at a press conference on Monday they could ask as many questions as they wanted to because after that Azizul and Fatehah would be banned from talking to the press.
Like the cyclists, the divers took the same route. No interviews until their events are over.
Luckily, the shuttlers are not banned from opening their gob. If not there would be no stories coming out from Rio de Janeiro.”
So you had a press conference, why didn’t you get the questions out on the spot? There was your opportunity. Once before the competition, and many more after.
I have to see this annoys me further because I dislike this Malaysian press habit of not asking questions during press conferences. Most writers for prominent local publications are guilty of this. The general assumption is that journalists will ask the questions 1-to-1 after the press conference, thus dragging out a 30 minute affair into a 2-hour event in an air-conditioned hotel function room with too much mihun.
“All these athletes are funded by the Government. The cyclists and divers train overseas and big amount of money are spend on them. Certainly the tax-paying public has the right to know what’s happening on the ground.”
I guess our government includes Maybank and Yayasan Sime Darby? Not sure who sponsors the dive team, besides Nike (I’m not sure if this extends beyond Pandelela), but I hope some good ones are lined up. And as for the part about training overseas — so what? The cycling team has been training in Australia since Josiah Ng’s days as our Olympian, suddenly now it’s a problem? Datuk Nicol David trains in Amsterdam, and anyone who suggests she’s not a Malaysian athlete deserves to grow a third eye just so it can be blackened along with the usual two.
If there is a problem with our athletes having to train elsewhere, it’s what we have to offer those who stay that we need to examine. Even China has said Datuk Lee Chong Wei could be a world champion with their facilities and resources (god knows what he meant, maybe he meant Olympic gold medallist, since LCW is definitely a world champion in badminton), and Misbun Sidek said funding was the reason our athletes have yet to achieve a gold medal.
“Personally, I think Malaysian athletes are too pampered. Officials mollycoddle them all the time. It’s time to discard the kid gloves.
And some of our athletes are super sensitive. You criticise them and they won’t talk to you.
My message to them is: Grow up.”
Personally, I think our Malaysian press is too pampered — not in terms of what they can publish, but in terms of what they expect in their line of duty. I say this as someone who’s always uncomfortable with the fawning treatment of gifts and food I get when I do attend events as press.
How sensitive is this reporter? You grow up. Can’t do live interviews? Find another goddamn story in Rio. You’re in the Olympics. Figure it out. How can the reporter sent by The Star be so goddamn blinkered? What other story angles did you miss, FFS?
I tried to imagine my former editor, Jacq Ann Surin, handling this reporter’s submitted article about ‘pampered athletes’. When I worked for her, she had some accounts of spirited attempts during her journalist days, doing what it takes and getting the story. More experienced journalists tend to have these stories. Not to assume what Jacq thinks of this issue, but I doubt this hand-wringing would be a response she would respect, or even accept as an editor. I definitely don’t think it would have been published.
Anyway, I think Juana put forth the best retort (which I have loosely paraphrased).
“I’ll like to see him cover Syria. Excuse me, I’ve flown all the way here. What is the meaning of this blockade?”
The reporter did manage to cover Rio, despite his complaints. Maybe knowing of them made me feel his coverage was quite lacklustre. You can decide for yourself here.
It gave me great pleasure to read the comment by John Beasley, coach of the cycling team, in response to The Star.
I couldn’t find it on the article itself where the comment had been posted, I’m not sure if he or The Star removed it. I don’t know why the comment didn’t show on mobile earlier, but I see it on the website now.
It’s worth reading his very valid, and in my opinion, quite restrained comment.
Good afternoon Phuah,
I am sorry you feel that way, I just read your story and it is very typical of the Malaysian press. I gave you full access to the athletes during the press conference though very few questions were asked, why? Because you guys don’t do your homework, why is it that the Malaysian press come to press conferences without doing their homework?
All the performance data is out there accessible on the net and yet still you ask us what is your records? Further more we get asked the same old questions every time we are interviewed.
I think it’s you guys that need a big kick in the back side to do some preparation before coming to interviews. I can only speak for cycling here and honestly you guys call your self professional, it’s more like a holiday as there is rarely a story worthy of reading as there is no substance in your stories. The Malaysian press are like a broken record, we are always open and available to you guys.
Let me point out one fact, you got the opportunity to speak to us when we arrived, where is that content, Oh sorry I had a moment lapse of memory, you did not ask many questions did you? if you ask me it is your fault. Yes, we train over seas, I have been well noted for pointing out the reasons why and this is only to give your athletes their best chance to perform on the big stage, We also educate them off shore also something you guys need a lot more schooling on.
We are at the Olympic games, do you know what that means? We are racing the best of the best from all around the world, every body is a champion that has just qualified to make the games team. Most athletes train a life time and never get to represent their country, though in Malaysia that is not good enough for you guys, our athletes you have the hide to call them failures, what is wrong with you people. Regardless of what happens here in Rio we have left no stone unturned on our journey to get here and we have provided Malaysia with some great results over our journey, now grow up and let us get on with doing our job.
Head Coach Track Cycling.
Paragraph breaks are mine. I hope it’s okay to archive his words here.