Cut medal chase and break records instead, says Olympian

An Olympian has challenged national athletes to better their personal best or national record instead of merely gunning for medals at the SEA Games.

Former national racewalker Annastasia Karen Raj, who competed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, said it was baffling that some athletes have failed to improve their personal best for years despite winning medals at the regional Games.

“You can win a gold medal at the SEA Games but can you beat the record, can you beat your own personal best?” asked Annastasia who broke the national racewalking record 13 times during her heydays.

“I see some athletes who last achieved their personal best two years ago. So for the last two years what has happened? Are there enough competitions? Things are quite stagnant in the Malaysian athletics scene.”

She added athletes with fire would want to compete in the Olympics and their focus and ultimate goal should be to improve their personal best or national record.

“But if an athlete is looking at the short term, just winning a gold medal or some monetary reward, that’s not going to take the athlete far. Eventually, such an athlete will retire sooner before reaching his or her peak.”

Annastasia, based in Shanghai, China, is Lear Corporation’s Asia Talent Acquisition and Diversity & Inclusion Director, and Head of Human Resources for India. Having left Malaysia for years, the former Convent Sentul student revealed she will return to the country in the next two years and is eager to contribute to the national sporting scene.

She said this on the YouTube talkshow The RSS with HD over the weekend.

“I will be relocating to Mumbai soon and will return to Malaysia in two years.”

She also hailed the idea of an insurance scheme for athletes in Malaysia, adding it would be beneficial for former stars who are now in their golden years.

“That’s a fantastic idea. Two weeks ago I tried searching for an insurance plan for my mom but was unable to do so as she is above 70. I didn’t realise this before.”

“As athletes, we push our bodies to the limit. It’s best to invest in something that we will be able to rely on later in life. I would contribute to such a scheme,” said Annastasia, adding such an initiative could be led by the Olympic Council of Malaysia, National Athletes Welfare Foundation or the National Sports Council.

The RSS with HD, featuring actor Rashid Salleh and Twentytwo13 editor Haresh Deol, is produced by Professional Storytellers and Toucan Media. The official apparel for the show is Amnig.

The weekly talk show is aired every Sunday at 4pm. Among those who have been on the show are former Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong, Olympic Council of Malaysia president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria and mixed martial arts Asian champion Colleen Augustin.