Najib: Make sports an everyday habit

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak urged Malaysians to make sports a habit instead of only exercising on special occasions.

Najib said Malaysians should aspire to be fit and healthy but stressed that this can be achieved not only through sports, but with a healthy lifestyle and diet as well.

"I want the definition of sports day to mean sports every day. It doesn't even have to be formal sports; we can even park our cars further away and walk more often, or skip the lift and take the stairs instead if it's only one or two floors.

"You can also do it with diet. If something has too much fat in it then avoid it. Food is not just a question of taste but a question of health as well," he said during his National Sports Day opening speech.

Najib said sports can also be a uniting force between Malaysians from all walks of life, such as what transpired during the recently concluded Olympic and Paralympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

He said even though Malaysians are watching national athletes give their all from thousands of kilometres away, all are inspired by their performance and are united in supporting the sportsmen and sportswomen.

"Their success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games inspired us all and propped up Malaysia's image internationally," Najib said.

The launching in Putrajaya saw more than 30,000 participants, including adults and school children, taking part in cycling marathons, fun walks, basketball, futsal, and many other sporting activities.

Several national athletes who represented Malaysia at the Olympic and Paralympic Games were also present at the launch, including Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Goh Liu Ying, and Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said simultaneous National Sports Day launching events were also held in each state throughout the country involving more than 20,000 sporting activities.

Khairy said the government is targeting to have more than 7 million people or 20% of the population participate in National Sports Day events throughout the country.

He said if the number is achieved then it will be a record in the Malaysia Book of Records, and the government will aim for an even higher participation rate next year.

Khairy also said youth participation in sports has increased in recent years and it is an encouraging sign to achieving the government's objective of having a sporting and healthy nation.

"Youth participation is definitely increasing, especially when you look at events such as marathons, cycling, and other runs. For example, the Standard Charted Marathon only had 5,000 to 6,000 participants when it first started, now they have more than 30,000," he said during a press conference later.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said sporting events are also being held simultaneously in 10,180 schools throughout the country.

Kamalanathan said there are currently about 5 million students throughout the country and he hopes the majority of them are participating in the events.