Thursday, November 17, 2011

Target achievable

SURPRISE: Young guns add to optimistic mood

The national divers, who won seven gold medals, celebrate after the final day of competition yesterday.

Fears that Malaysia would miss out on the official target were dispelled by National Sports Council director general Datuk Zolkples Embong as another six gold medals were added to the national tally yesterday.

 The NSC had set a target of 40-45 gold medals, which some quarters had criticised as too low, but it is beginning to look more realistic compared to the 60 the national associations had expected.

   Some who targeted gold have already fallen by the wayside, which Zolkples said he expected, but especially pleasing was the emergence of certain sports.

   "Yes, in some sports where we were expected to deliver -- like karate and taekwondo -- we lost. But still, there were the likes of fencer Joshua Koh and the men's 4x400m quartet in athletics that delivered pleasant surprises, so we're not worried.

   "From our day-to-day count, we're on track to meeting the target," said Zolkples in Jakarta yesterday.

   Sports like fencing, Zolkples said, had shown much improvement despite not having the same level of support as the 19 core sports. This is something the NSC will be looking into after the Sea Games.

   The Pelapis (back-up) programme will also be reviewed.

   "There is a strong representation from the Pelapis programme in this Sea Games.

   "Though it is too soon to pressure them, some of the athletes have won silver and bronze medals and that augurs well for the future.

   "However, we have our benchmarks and we'll know where they stand after the Games. We'll just finish off this Games and have a more detailed review when we get home."

   As NSC prepares for that, the divers will return home as the most successful athletes after Yeoh Ken Nee and Pandelela Rinong added the men's 3m springboard and women's 10m platform gold medals to the squad's haul.

   That brought their total to seven, missing out on only the men's 10m platform synchro which Malaysia did not compete in.

   The tenpin bowlers too roared as they swept the men's and women's doubles gold medals at the Jaya Ancol alley.

   Adrian Ang-Alex Liew took the men's title while Zandra Aziela Ibrahim Hakimi-Jacqueline Sijore beat Singapore for the women's gold.

   In snooker, veteran Sam Chong capped his comeback by partnering Rory Thor to the doubles gold while Siow Yi Ting successfully defended her 200m breaststroke title.

Read more: NST

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