AFTER years of developing their skills in the sport and spending the last few months preparing, it is now time for the national athletes to prove their worth at the Sea Games.Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said he did not want to burden athletes with high expectations but reminded them of what is at stake at the biennial Games.
"Malaysia has a proud history in the Sea Games. Although we have not won every edition, we have always been among the front-runners," said Khairy when addressing the contingent at the flag-handing over ceremony in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
"When you put on that national shirt with the Jalur Gemilang logo you are not only representing yourself but also the hopes of the country.
"The eyes of the nation will be on you at the Games and the people of Malaysia share every success you achieve on court or on the field.
"I do not want to put pressure on you (to succeed) as I believe if you have prepared well, then success will come on its own."
Khairy reminded the athletes to be on their best behaviour and likened them to ambassadors of the country.
A total of 1,557 medals -- 460 gold, 460 silver and 637 bronze -- will be on offer at the Games from the 33 sports in this edition. Malaysia will send a total of 798 athletes, who will compete in all but four of the sports in Myanmar.
Malaysia won 58 gold, 50 silver and 81 bronze at the last edition in Indonesia two years ago but this year have set a conservative target of 40 gold due to the exclusion of a number of sports.
The official opening ceremony of the Games will be held in Naypyitaw on Wednesday.