THE success of the football team in Vientiane symbolised the strength of the Malaysian contingent, said chef-de-mission Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz.
Overall, Dr Ramlan stressed that sports science has played a major role in the football team's triumph even if it is yet to be fully accepted by many athletes.
"While we celebrate our success, I'm already thinking about next year, 2011 and 2012. What is important for us to remember, apart from what caused us to lose in certain sports, is to learn about how we won," said Dr Ramlan.
He said the success of Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore was largely due to the fact that they have moved sports science down to the very beginning of the development structure.
"In the Singapore sports school, they have their own sports science team working with the students, which we don't have yet," said Dr Ramlan.
Dr Ramlan revealed that a team of psychologists were assigned to the players to find out what was wrong and to lift their spirits after the 3-1 preliminary round defeat to Vietnam.
"This was a team who had been worked on and they were able to absorb the sports science approach from quite early. What also helped was that they had a coach who was receptive, so this made it easier for us to get to the players," said Dr Ramlan.
"Further than that, we need coaches who are steeped in a scientific and systematic approach. When you have got this, then you have kids who have the foundation.
"Most of our kids don't have this. Our kids are only given sports science exposure when they reach a level where they are prepared for the Malaysia Games.
"It has helped them, but it cannot garner that consistent performance that you are looking for."
As to the sports which failed (shooting, sepak takraw, archery and athletics), Dr Ramlan there need not be a punitive approach.
"We must strike the right balance. As much as we would like to say that they have to be accountable for their failures, this is an ongoing situation. We still have to work on them," said Dr Ramlan.
"We should know what we want and we should know that it costs money (to develop athletes). When we are properly 'resourced', both financially and in the human resource aspect, then we can say we are a developed sporting nation.
"There was a wise man who said there are no failures, but only early attempts at success. The failures of today mean our job is to turn them into the successes of tomorrow.
Laos Games organisers hand the flag to Indonesian officials as the next Games hosts.
"Never mind the failures. We will study how we failed and ensure they will be turned into successes in the future. But those who have succeeded, they, too, must know why they have succeeded. That has been our previous problem. In celebrating our success, we always forget to study why we have succeeded." - NST