BUKIT JALIL, KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad admitted that he may not be a good example when it comes to getting enough exercise.
While the 93-year-old is famous for his habit of working almost non-stop, he confessed that he does not do enough physical exercise.
Speaking at the launch of the National Sports Day on Saturday (Oct 13), Tun Mahathir reminded Malaysians of the importance of being active in sports and exercise, especially if they lead a sedentary lifestyle.
He then added in a lighter vein that he was, unfortunately, not a good example.
"I don't exert myself physically as much as I urge others to do.
"People should do what I don't do - don't follow Dr Mahathir, he is not quite right because he asks others to do sports when he doesn't," he said.
Dr Mahathir said he did not take part in many sports activities in school, with the exception of rugby.
"With rugby, it does not require physical skill. If you are brave enough to bash your head against the heads of opponents, then you can play.
"You don't need to be very skilled, just need to quarrel with opponents, that's why I played rugby," he said.
Celebrated on the second Saturday of October each year, the National Sports Day event organised by the Youth and Sports Ministry aims to make Malaysia a sporting nation.
Apart from the national-level launch and celebration on Saturday, Malaysians from all walks of life took part in concurrent celebrations and activities nationwide.
Dr Mahathir said he was proud of Malaysia's sporting achievements, including the seven gold medals won at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia held from Aug 18 to Sept 2.
He also lauded the performance of Malaysia's para-athletes who have won 17 gold medals at the Asian Para Games - also being held in Indonesia - from Oct 8 to 16.
Two Malaysian para-athletes -Mohamed Ridzuan Puzi and Abdul Latif Romly - broke world records in the 100m T36 and long jump F20 respectively in the Games.
While Dr Mahathir congratulated Malaysia's medal-winning athletes, he lamented the state of the country's football team, which is currently ranked 171 out of 211 countries by Fifa, the international governing body of association football.
He said Malaysia was, at one point, an Asian football powerhouse.
"The Japanese and Koreans were not good at football like us. We played football wearing boots while they were barefooted.
"But now, the ones who used to be barefoot are able to contest in World Cup. Malaysia cannot even qualify.
"I believe Malaysians can do it if they just put in the effort. If you want to be a scorer in a football team, play and practise a lot.
"Believe me, we will obtain the proficiency and one day, Malaysia's football team will qualify for the World Cup."
After Dr Mahathir's speech, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman glided along a zip-line over the audience to the side of the stage while carrying the National Sports Day flag.
He then presented Dr Mahathir with the flag.