From wushu exponent to project engineer – Loh Jack Chang has made quite a transition.
But the former wushu world champion admits he retired at the right time – given the lack of clarity in the Malaysian sports scene.
“Yes, some of them (athletes) have messaged me saying I’m lucky to have left the national team.
“But I feel sorry for my friends who are still athletes. They are not too sure what lies ahead,” he said.
A member of Olympic Council of Malaysia’s Athletes’ Commission, Loh said athletes and even coaches are unsure what the Youth and Sports Ministry is planning for the year and beyond.
The ministry has come under fire in recent times, including public outbursts by elite athletes, due to the so-called lack of clarity and direction. The situation is worrying as there are athletes who have not been training since the start of the year despite the Manila SEA Games 10 months away.
“Among the grouses include their training allowances being slashed and that athletes and coaches are unsure their training programme would be like throughout the year,” Loh said.
He added several representatives from the Athletes Commission met Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim to give him an idea of what the athletes were going through.
“He listened to us and assured the ministry will address the issues raised. But until today we’ve not heard or seen anything to that effect.”
Loh added the ministry, its agencies and the national associations should meet the athletes and coaches to clear the air.
“I remember attending a town hall meeting between athletes and (the then) Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. Many athletes voiced their opinions without holding back. He heard first hand what we had to say.
“Those in the higher-ups must continue to give athletes and coaches a chance to voice their opinions.”
Loh, however, believes athletes who are eager to prove themselves will continue to strive for the best, regardless of the hurdles they face.
“Although I’m no longer a national athlete, I will try and assist the national athletes and help the ministry find a solution to the issues raised.”
Loh was met after being interviewed on BFM’s ‘Bar None’ at the radio station’s studio in Taman Tun Dr Ismail yesterday.
During the interview, Loh spoke about life after sports and how he managed to adapt to the new environment after serving the national team for 13 years.
Catch Loh on ‘Bar None’ this Saturday at 10am with a repeat show next Thursday (Feb 7) at 8pm.