A Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmaker yesterday urged the government to help nurture top athletes by offering them pensions and other incentives.
Legislator Justin Chou (周守訓) made the call a day after Yani Tseng (曾雅妮) won the Australian Ladies Masters. Tseng’s victory, her third in a row this year, propelled her to the No. 1 ranking in the world in women’s golf.
Chou said that although Taiwanese athletes have won several titles in baseball, softball and other sporting events, Tseng is “the true No. 1 in the world and her title was the best gift” that Taiwanese could have in the first week of the Lunar New Year.
However, in celebrating her achievement, the nation must also ask itself: “Where is the next Yani Tseng?” he said.
Taiwan should come up with concrete measures to cultivate and train more world-class athletes, he said.
Taiwan is currently training fewer than 100 athletes in the 10-to-18 age group in various sports, while South Korea is training 10,000, he said.
Tseng’s rise to the No. 1 spot in women’s golf proved that Taiwanese are not inferior in terms of physical energy or skills, he said.
“What we need is to find more Tsengs,” he said.
The government should follow in the footsteps of South Korea and provide lifelong financial support for outstanding athletes, which would prevent them from having to struggle to survive when they retire from their sports careers, he said.
Private businesses should be offered tax incentives to sponsor potential top athletes, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said the nation should host more international sports events to gain greater international exposure.
It would cost about NT$200 million (US$6.8 million) to host a Ladies Professional Golf Association event, a 70th of the cost of the Taipei International Flora Expo, and it would give Taiwan far more mileage internationally, Gao said.