VIETNAM stood in Malaysia's way to several milestones yesterday, most significantly the football final but the nation's 20-year wait for the gold medal ended when K. Rajagobal's squad triumphed 1-0 at the National Stadium.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak expressed his happiness at the achievement of the football team in winning the gold medal at the Sea Games in Laos and hopes that it is not a seasonal success.
"We wish to see a significant change in the position of our football team compared to the other nations"
"We should use this victory as a stepping stone for greater success in future," he told Malaysian journalists after delivering his speech at the Conference on Climatic Change organised by the United Nations, yesterday.
On the success of the Malaysian contingent in winning 40 gold medals so far, Najib said it was a good achievement compared to the minimum target of 25 gold medals.
"But there are still other events going on, and we may raise the tally," he said.
|The Jalur Gemilang-waving Malaysian team celebrate their gold medal triumph yesterday.|
He also congratulated all the Malaysian athletes who had succeeded in winning medals in the biennial games and described the success as "most encouraging".
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin joined in the joy and congratulated the Malaysian players.
He said Malaysians were proud they had ended the 20-year wait.
"I hope this victory will spur the national team to greater heights and deliver consistent results in future tournaments," said Muhyiddin in a statement from Mecca.
The Malaysian contingent started the day by first meeting the minimal 30-gold medal target set by the National Sports Council (NSC), when 22-year-old silat exponent Mohd Fauzi Khalid overcame Vietnamese rival Truong Van Mao in the 70-75kg category.
That was followed by three more gold medals from silat exponents Faizal Abdullah, Mohd Hafiz Mahari and Emy Latip as Malaysia surged towards the optimistic target of 35 gold medals.
Pole vaulter Roslinda Samsu, high jumper Lee Hup Wei and quartermiler Zafril Zuslaini with a surprise gold in the men's 400m at the athletics track ensured that was met.
Then, later in the day boxers Farkhan Haron and Fairus Azwan Abdullah ended the country's 42-year wait for a gold medal outside of Kuala Lumpur in the regional meet that began with the SEAP Games.
It was a first ever outside of Kuala Lumpur since the SEAP Games became the Sea Games in 1977.
The women's badminton pair of Wong Pei Tty and Chin Ee Hui delivered the 40th gold medal when they overcame Singapore's Yao Lei and Shinta M Sari in the final.
The final tally of 40 gold, 40 silver and 59 bronze medals for Malaysia, who ended their Sea Games campaign on the penultimate day as no athletes are involved today, was even sweeter as the football gold was once again in Malaysian hands. NST