KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia must further intensify the accumulation of its talent pool in sports in order to go further or become a superpower in any major multi-sports Games at the highest international level.

National track cycling ace Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang said all parties must cooperate in ensuring the country would not be short of talent in order to produce world-class athletes capable of bringing glory to Malaysia on the international stage.

"That's why the sport's superpowers, like the United States, China and Australia, usually have no shortage of talent and often produce new athletes and champions.

"Although some of their athletes have retired, their new athletes are able to provide continuity because they have a large talent pool. At the same time, their new athletes push each other so as to ensure their performance remains at the highest level," he said.

Azizulhasni said this as a guest at a forum titled 'Misi Emas: Antara Minda, Tekad dan Daya' that was organised by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and held virtually today.

Also present were national gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi and Tokyo Paralympics men's singles badminton SU5 (physical impairment) gold medallist Cheah Liek Hou.

The 33-year-old Azizulhasni said that while he understands the efforts put in by the National Sports Council to actively boost sports development at the grassroots level, it was also the responsibility of other stakeholders to contribute towards finding new sports talent who can spur Malaysia's quest for success at the world stage in the future.

"I realise that Paris 2024 will be my legacy ride and my last Olympic appearance. I am already considered an old-timer and the time for me to retire is coming soon, so that's why we need a large battalion of new faces in order to find the next champions for Malaysia," he said.

The keirin silver medallist at last month's Tokyo Olympics also hopes that the younger generation who are interested in sports would be able to learn from his sacrifices and the deep interest he has as well as from other national athletes in order for them to go far in their chosen sport.

Concurring with his view, Farah Ann said she too would like to see junior gymnasts be featured more frequently against seniors in the future.

"Take the United States for example, at every edition of the Olympics, there are always new athletes representing them and my hope is that one day the same will happen in our national gymnastics squad," she said.

Similarly, Liek Hou views the pooling of new talent in para badminton as a strategy that would make it difficult for opponents to gauge the national team's capabilities and hopes that more young athletes would step forward to represent the country to continue his legacy after this.