A former optimist sailor is in troubled waters. In his 20s, he is under investigation for alleged criminal breach of trust. He has apparently absconded with a large sum of money from a renowned bank.
There's another story. He had confided in a few people that he was desperate for money and was struggling to make ends meet. He claimed the authorities had left him to fend on his own and other sailors of his generation who had succumbed to drug addiction.
Though the allegations are serious and not to be condoned, it's clear that some of our ex-athletes are "lost" in the real world. Imagine a decade or two ago he was a celebrated sailor who represented the country in several World Championships, won a gold medal in a SEA Games and a silver medal in an Asian Games.
An optimist sailor has to upgrade him or herself to another category upon reaching 15 and the rate of success is usually slim. By 18, the sailor could be in no man's land - out of the scheme of things, unemployed and possibly with no SRP or SPM results to fall back on.
This is where the authorities - National Sports Council and the National Athletes' Welfare Foundation or YAKEB - can help. YAKEB, chaired by former sprinter Datuk Paduka Mumtaz Jaffar, perhaps can come up with a mechanism or insurance scheme that would help ease the financial burden of our ex-athletes. While it's good medals at the Asian, Commonwealth and Olympic Games guarantee medal winners a lump sum, it's worth considering a retirement scheme that would ensure a token sum is being bankrolled into their account on a monthly basis. The scheme should not be restricted to medal winners but also those who were once in the national programme.
Not every athlete can become a successful football pundit like Shebby Singh or earn a living from the sport they had served with passion.
It will dawn upon them one day that the adulation, celebration and ecstasy will not last for long. Make hay while the sun shines. In the sailor's case, the sun is no longer shining.