Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu has once again found himself facing huge criticisms after he congratulated Malaysian athlete Shereen Samson’s victory in the ongoing US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Track and Field Championship.
On Saturday (28 May), Shereen, who is representing Winona State University, won the women’s 400m race in Allendale and she clocked a sizzling time of 52.68s, finishing comfortably ahead of Ayana Fields of the California Polytechnic State University (53.44) and Hanna Williams of Missouri Western State University (53.49).
Her triumph came barely 2 months after she won the NCAA Division 2 Indoor Championships in March, capping a superb campaign in the 2021/22 season.
Following her achievement, Shereen has become the third Malaysian female runner to dip under 53 seconds in the 400m event, joining Rabia Abdul Salam and her former Olympian mother, Josephine Mary Singarayar.
According to the Winona State University’s official athletics site, Shereen became the first athlete from their track and field team to become outdoor champion of the 400m race at national level.
She also holds the all-time best record in the 400m at Winona State University – 52.68 (outdoors) and 53.37 (indoors) and is also the fastest 200m runner ever at Winona State with a time of 23.52.
While Shereen’s success at the indoor college meet in March was met with silence by the Malaysia Athletics Federation, National Sports Council and Olympic Council of Malaysia, her victory in the more recent outdoor athletic event was quick to be acknowledged by the Youth and Sports Minister.
Syabas! Pelari pecut wanita negara, Shereen Samson Vallabouy berjaya menjuarai acara 400m wanita di Kejohanan NCAA Division II Track and Field di Allendale, Michigan (28 Mei) dengan catatan 52.68s.#MalaysiaBoleh 🥇🇲🇾 pic.twitter.com/euPiTOMG64— Faizal Azumu (@PejaOfPerak) May 29, 2022
This has then drawn criticisms from netizens and they pointed out that the minister is only riding on the coattails of Shereen’s success, given that they are doing only the bare minimum for her.
Netizens also pointed out how her parents were struggling to support her living expenses and other costs in the US, but the ministry had not done anything about it. This is in spite of the fact that Shereen is on a 75% athletics scholarship from Winona State University where she is pursuing a degree in recreation and tourism.
They even found out that it was Vincent Tan, the founder of Berjaya Corporation Berhad had donated a sum of US$52,000 (≈RM228,000) to Shereen and her parents through his personal charity organisation, Better Malaysia Foundation (BMF) to support her journey to academic and athletic excellence.
Meanwhile, a netizen pointed out that back in March, after Shereen broke the indoor athletic record, Faizal had visited Panthers Athletic Club, whom Shereen used to train with, to donate RM50,000 to the club.
President of the club Jayabalan Karuppiah said part of the money from the ministry will be used to support Shereen’s education and expenses in the US.
Nonetheless, nobody knows if she did receive part of the money or if that money is not enough to foot the bill for her American education.
What do you think about this? Share your thoughts!