Wednesday, June 3, 2015

National contingent can meet 56 per cent medal target

SINGAPORE, June 2 (Bernama) -- There are three days left before the 28th SEA Games officially raises its curtain but competition in a number of sports had already begun, including football, table tennis, rhythmic swimming and fencing.

Singapore who are hosting the biennial event after 22 years will be offering 402 gold medals via 39 sports which will feature about 7,000 athletes and officials from 11 member nations.

Malaysia has sent 641 athletes, including 292 women athletes and 268 officials for the SEA Games which will officially begin on June 5.

The national contingent is not setting any specific medal target but have only stated hope of winning 56 per cent medals, at the current edition, based on an average of medals won in previous editions.

Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin who handed over the Jalur Gemilang, said the benchmark was fixed based on the average achievement of the national contingent in five previous SEA Games, whereby, on average, 55.6 per cent medals were won by the Malaysian contingent in events participated.

According to Khairy, the gold medal target was not a priority to turn the Singapore SEA Games into a development purpose because almost 50 per cent of the athletes in the national contingent are back-up athletes.

However, many are of the opinion that the target, in terms of percentage, is difficult to meet.

The national contingent is seen as capable of achieving the 56 per cent medal target based on the current performances of the athletes in diving, rhythmic swimming, men's and women's hockey, archery and water ski.

Even before the start of the Games, Malaysia has already lost several gold medal opportunities when karate and lawn bowls were not included in the programme by Singapore.

On an average and based on the achievement of the omitted sports in previous editions, Malaysia may have lost more than 20 gold medals as the events, which are the strength of the Malaysian contingent, are not contested.

Although Khairy categorized the SEA Games as a development Games, the performances of the national contingent at the SEA Games are often debated due to inconsistency.

Countries that host the SEA Games are often accused of manipulating results in their favour, especially subjective sports which in actual fact are not the forte of that country.

Based on sports contested at the current edition, Malaysia had won 33 gold medals at the Myanmar SEA Games two years ago with diving contributing the eight gold medals.

Overall, the Malaysian contingent came home with 43 gold, 38 silver and 77 bronze medals from Myanmar.

The national contingent's best achievement in 39 sports (sports contested in Singapore) was in 2011 in Indonesia, by reaping 53 gold, 39 silver and 55 bronze medals, and overall, Malaysia gathered 59 gold, 50 silver and 81 bronze medals.

Surely, the 2001 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games is etched in the historical success of Malaysia's SEA Games achievement with 111 gold, 98 silver and 86 bronze medals.

But Malaysia's greatest achievement outside of Kuala Lumpur was in 2007 in Korat, Thailand where the national contingent won 68 gold, 52 silver and 96 bronze medals.


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