Singapore SEA Games merely a platform to expose young athletes
SINGAPORE: There’s a good reason why the National Sports Council (NSC) have not set any targets for the Singapore SEA Games.
Of the 670 athletes competing in the Games, 396 are back-up athletes.
The Singapore SEA Games are being used as a platform for these back-up athletes to show their mettle in preparation for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 2017.
This is the first time in the history of the biennial Games that Malaysia are sending more back-up athletes.
In Singapore, the NSC will be able to gauge the back-up athletes’ strengths and weaknesses when they go up against athletes from 10 other participating countries.
In some sports – like squash, waterski and men’s hockey – Malaysia will be represented by back-up players.
In squash, Malaysia will have no problem grabbing four of the five golds at stake. The only exception being the jumbo doubles event which Malaysia are not taking part in.
Diving and athletics have an equal mix of seniors and juniors.
Malaysian chef de mission Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria is confident that the Malaysian back-up athletes will do well in Singapore.
“The Singapore Games will be a good benchmark for our back-ups to give their best ... and win medals. Although we’ve not set any targets, we hope they will shine at the Games.
“It will be a good preparation for the back-up athletes for next SEA Games we’ll be hosting in 2017,” said Norza.
The NSC and the Youth and Sports Ministry may not have set any targets for them but StarSport has predicted that the Malaysian contingent can haul in 50 golds.
One is already in the bag, courtesy of syncronised swimming pair Katrina Ann Abdul Hadi-Zylane Lee Yhing Huey on Thursday.
That’s one down, 49 more to go. StarSport is confident the Malaysian athletes can hit the target.
Malaysia will feature in 35 of the 36 sports, except for the traditional boat race.
Malaysia are targeting to become overall champions in the SEA Games in two years’ time. Malaysia last emerged as overall champions in 2001, when they hosted the Games, with a total of 111 golds from 32 sports.