KUALA LUMPUR: Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria wants Taekwondo Malaysia (TM) to end a drought of almost two decades without a representative at the Olympic Games at the Los Angeles 2028 (LA28) Games.

Mohamad Norza asked TM to prepare a road map towards LA28 as an initial preparation so that the country will again have a representative to fight on the world’s biggest games stage in four years’ time.

“I hope TM president Azizul Annuar Adenan and secretary-general Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor provide (us with) a road map on how we can make early preparations to ensure that we have representatives at LA28 or the highest levels.

“Of course, step by step, I think this is one of the ways,” he said after officiating the International Kyorugi and Poomsae Taekwondo World Referee Seminar and Refresher Course at Wisma OCM here, today.

The last time the country’s taekwondo athletes qualified for the Olympics was in the 2008 edition in Beijing, through Elaine Teo and Che Chew Chan, respectively competing in the women’s category under 57 kg and over 67 kg.

The OCM chief, at the same time, praised the progress displayed by TM under the leadership of the two individuals, including the organisation of the referee’s seminar and course in Malaysia after 20 years, which attracted the participation of more than 400 people from 33 countries starting today until June 29.

“This is one of the ways to put Malaysia on the international map and boost the development of this sport, which to some extent gives an injection to take this sport to a higher level. I also want to express my full support for taekwondo returning (being reinstated) as a core sport,” he added.

Meanwhile, Azizul Annuar responded to Mohamad Norza’s suggestion to implement the direction towards LA28, and said that TM has started searching for young talents this year to be developed through participation in international tournaments.

He said TM has also successfully obtained the approval of the Asian Taekwondo Union to be the organiser of the Asian Junior, Cadet and Para Asian Championships, as well as the union’s general assembly in July next year in Kuching, Sarawak.

“The tournament will involve thousands of participants from 44 countries, a very proud achievement since I became TM president in 2018. At least our talents will be highlighted for good achievements in the Asian Junior, seeing as we are the host, then we move forward from there,” he said.

He is also optimistic that the National Sports Council (NSC) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) will return to listing taekwondo as a core sport in the near future, given that it is still under consideration by the two organisations.

“It’s still at the discussion stage, but the support from KBS and NSC is really encouraging because after our participation in overseas tournaments has been self-financed for several years, NSC has started providing assistance to send our athletes abroad since last year.

“Even back then, when we had certain matters to be resolved, we still managed to clinch the SEA Games gold medal since the 2019 edition and also medal in World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships, never achieved by any Malaysian before. That kind of explains how much we have developed with minimal support from NSC,” he said.

Taekwondo, along with sepak takraw and weightlifting were dropped from the category of core sports status in December 2017.

The national taekwondo squad managed to win three gold, two silver and three bronze medals at the 2023 Cambodia SEA Games, after achieving tallies of 1-2-5 at the 2019 Philippines SEA Games and 1-1-3 at the 2021 Vietnam SEA Games.