Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ungracious hosts

POORLY ORGANISED: Games riddled with controversial decisions

closing ceremony
Malaysian athletes march past during the closing ceremony at Gelora Sriwijaya in Palembang yesterday.

The 26th Sea Games in Indonesia will be remembered for the hosts' blatant gamesmanship more than anything else.

   That has been the impression given  by the hosts who used every trick in  the book to  gain an  advantage in order to become  overall champions.

   Indonesia left the opposition  chasing shadows en route to  amassing  182 gold, 151 silver and 142 bronze medals with 62 gold medals coming from extreme sports and lesser known traditional events like  roller sports, paragliding, sports climbing, kempo, vovinam, fin swimming, soft tennis and bridge.

   They also took 33 gold medals from  the martial arts events of karate, taekwondo, wushu and pencak silat which were all riddled with controversial decisions.

   In some cases,  gold medals are decided beforehand with  the hosts the biggest gainers while  future hosts are also looked after by top officials who want to ensure their sports continue to be part of the Games.

   Many athletes, who were the clear winners, cried foul as their gold medals were robbed by the hosts.

   Malaysian boxer Farkhan Harun also fell victim to biased judging in the middleweight final against Indonesia's Alex Tatontos.

   The Sea Games, in all honesty, should be just  limited to Olympic events  and on occasions, selected sports where Asians excel in. Also,  the number of sports must be limited.

   It's  ridiculous that co-hosts Jakarta and Palembang staged a total of 44 sports.

The  Sea Games Federation (SGF) must  stop accommodating the requests  of the hosts to have certain sports included and instead aim to raise the profile of the  Games.

   But despite the problems and sometimes  local fans shouting abuse at  Malaysian athlete in many of the venues, Malaysia managed to secure 59 gold, 50 silver and 82 bronze medals to fall just one short of the 60-gold target set by the National Sports Associations (NSAs).

   The haul may look decent but the future doesn't, as the majority of the gold medals were won by old faces and even veteran Sam Chong, 49, had to come out of retirement to help boost Malaysia's gold medal tally.

Athletics, once the pride of Malaysia, has  been plunged into the doldrums with hardly any fresh talent  emerging from the Games.

   The men's 4x400m quartet grabbed the limelight despite the poor manner which the MAAU has treated them.

They didn't receive their gold medals as they had to fly back  less than 24 hours after their victory and MAAU has said  it's  not the association's fault.

   If president Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim doesn't get  tough and get rid of all the deadwood in the MAAU, athletics will suffer more humiliation in  future competitions.

   Sepak takraw dished out its worst performance as  not only were Malaysia  soundly beaten by Thailand but were also whitewashed by Indonesia, which calls for the  Sepak Takraw Association of Malaysia to do some soul searching.

Malaysia did well to win 19 gold medals from  swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and open water swimming but no new faces appeared.

The emergence of Christina Loh, who won the women's 50m breaststroke gold, was the only bright spark. The  16-year-old should take over from Siow Yi Ting in the next edition in Myanmar,

The rest of the swimmers are all familiar faces and this is disturbing. The  Amateur Swimming Union Malaysia should start investing on grooming younger talent.

   Taekwondo's failure is also alarming as despite being  the only Olympic martial arts sport in the Sea Games, it failed to impress.

   Badminton is the other sport where Malaysia's back-up players were exposed and winning one silver and two bronze is nothing to shout about, considering  we had only one representation -- Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah -- in the semi-finals of the individual events.

   However, if there is one gold Indonesia would have cherished the most but did not get, it was the one from football which  Malaysia won 4-3 in a penalty shootout.

Read more: NST

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