Selangor Journal
31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 31) logo. — Picture via FACEBOOK

SEA Games: Malaysia eyeing 36 golds in Hanoi

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — The Malaysian contingent will be gunning for 36 gold, 35 silver and 75 bronze medals at the Hanoi SEA Games from May 12 to May 23.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said the 146-medal target was set based on the current performance of the 584 national athletes bound for the biennial Games and after discussions with all relevant stakeholders.

He said diving and athletics were expected to be a gold mine for the national contingent in Hanoi, with each sport being entrusted with contributing more than five gold medals.

“Based on current performance, we can also strike gold through taekwondo, wushu, petanque, pencak silat, bodybuilding and several other sports. We found out that more than 58 per cent of the athletes are set to compete in their maiden SEA Games.

“We must understand that they need exposure at the international level to challenge themselves to go for medals. We have a bigger agenda… to take this momentum to the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the Olympics after this, where we are waiting for the elusive first (Olympic) gold,” he said.

Ahmad Faizal said this at a media conference after the handing over of the Jalur Gemilang to the national contingent at the National Sports Council (NSC) here today.

He also admitted that, with the 36-gold target, the national contingent would not be able to vie for the top-three overall position at the Games.

Asked about the lower target this time compared to the achievements of several previous editions, Ahmad Faizal said this was following a total of 72 medals — 25 golds, 18 silvers and 29 bronzes from 68 events in 27 sports that Malaysian athletes won at the 2019 edition in the Philippines — that won’t be contested at the Hanoi edition.

“Among the medals that we’ve ‘lost’ are from squash and lawn bowls, which each contributed four golds, skating (two golds), rhythmic gymnastics (three individual golds), breakdance (one gold) and several other sports.

“Apart from that, a total of 22 sports like sailing, equestrian, hockey, rugby and waterskiing which usually contributed medals at the SEA Games will also not be contested this time, thus resulting in us lowering our medal target.

“The constraints due to the Covid-19 pandemic also resulted in many tournaments worldwide to be either postponed or cancelled and that has caused us not to set too high a target. The 36-gold target is seen as being a realistic figure,” he explained.

However, Ahmad Faizal said that whatever constraints or deficiencies they faced, he was confident the national athletes would fight to the end to bag a gold medal for the country.

Malaysia’s best-ever achievement in the history of the SEA Games since its inaugural edition in 1959 in Bangkok was bagging 145 golds, 92 silvers and 86 bronzes to emerge as the overall champions of the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur.

At the 2019 edition in the Philippines, the national contingent returned home with a 55-58-71 medal haul.

— Bernama

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