M'sia hoping to compete in 2018 Winter Olympics: Khairy

MELISSA DARLYNE CHOW

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is gearing for qualification in three sports at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the country is looking to qualify in ice hockey, ice skating and alpine skiing.

"We have an ice hockey team. The athletes are now working hard towards qualifying for these three sports," he said at the lower house today.

Khairy (BN-Rembau) was replying to a supplementary question from Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (Pas-Kota Baru) on whether Malaysia is taking part in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next year.

Takiyuddin pointed out that one of Malaysia's alpine skiers finished in a commendable 14th position at the recent Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan.

Khairy also told the house that for the first time in Sea Games’ history in Kuala Lumpur this year, two winter sports will be held, namely ice hockey and ice skating.

To Takiyuddin's question on what extent the Sea Games’ participation is preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Khairy replied that it is the ministry's sports policy to view the Sea Games as a platform to expose young athletes before the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, to be held this year in Jakarta and the Gold Coast in 2018, respectively.

"Athletes like (Datuk) Lee Chong Wei and (Datuk) Nicol David, along with our national hockey team, will not feature in these Games. The young athletes will.

"Granted, there are those who will participate, as they have no competitive events during this period, like national cyclist (and Olympic medallist) Azizulhasni Awang, but our policy is to expose the young talent," Khairy added.