Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) deputy president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria. (Pix by OWEE AH CHUN)

KUALA LUMPUR: Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) deputy president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria said today it is premature to decide on the future of the National Podium Programme following the country’s results at the just concluded Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

The Podium Programme has come under heavy criticism after Malaysia finished 12th overall, winning seven gold medals, just one more than Malaysia’s previous outing, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Norza, who arrived at KLIA2 today, along with the last batch of the Malaysian contingent, said: "We are now going through a transition process, and I think we need to respect that.

"The new (Sports) Minister will have to decide on what happens next. I think the Podium Programme is crucial for Malaysia to be on the world map, so let us not forget everything that YB Khairy Jamaluddin (caretaker Sports Minister) has done up to date.

"Of course we have to continuously improve. What's more important now is the Asian Games in August and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Whoever that is going to lead the Podium Programme must look into this."

Currently, the Podium Programme is spearheaded by director Tim Newenham from Australia.

Norza, who is also the BA of Malaysia (BAM) president, conceded that Malaysia overestimated their strength, when they targeted three gold medals for badminton.

The national squad failed to equal their previous Commonwealth Games achievement when they only won two gold medals, one silver and two bronze in Gold Coast.

One of Malaysia's biggest setbacks was failing to retain the mixed team gold medal, when they lost 3-1 to India in the final.

"Firstly, allow me to say the team, under tremendous pressure to deliver, did reasonably well. However, we overestimated our strength when we targeted three gold medals.

"The rise of India as a new force in badminton should not be taken lightly. They proved that in table tennis as well.

"I have always stressed on having a robust system, as we cannot be over relying on our Olympians (Lee Chong Wei, Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying). If we are struggling at the Commonwealth Games, how are we to do well in the Thomas Cup and Asian Games, when there are stronger teams in the fray?

"I know I have been hard on the team before this, but we have to improve. I know I can't push the coaches to a point where it backfires, but they must realise and take responsibility to produce more top players. I am confident we will prevail," added Norza.

Malaysia's two gold medals in badminton came through Chong Wei in the men's singles and scratch women's doubles Vivian Hoo-Chow Mei Kuan.

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