SINGAPORE: The kids really came out to play!
Malaysia have achieved their second best outing at a SEA Games held outside the country – and it’s thanks in large parts to the youngsters.
The country ended their campaign in Singapore with 62 golds, 58 silvers and 66 bronzes to be placed fourth out of the 11 countries who took part.
The pre-Games target was for the contingent to secure 184 medals – or 55% of the total 329 events that Malaysians were involved in.
But they ended with a 186-total – two more than predicted – for the best-ever outing since the Korat Games in 2007, when Malaysia managed a haul of 68-52-96.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, in summarising the overall performance, explained that Malaysia did better in the same 34 sports held in Singapore (61-53-63) compared to Korat (50-41-72).
“Nineteen sports contributed gold medals in Korat, and it declined to 10 in Laos in 2009,” he said.
“We had gold medals from 14 sports in Palembang in 2011 and it went back to 12 in Myanmar two years ago.
“Twenty-two sports gave us gold medals in Singapore this time, but what’s more encouraging is the performance of the young athletes.
“A total of 151 athletes aged 21 and below contributed to the medal haul ... and 60 first-timers contributed to the gold medal haul (28 in total),” added Khairy, who is pleased that they are on the right track to emerge overall champions when Malaysia host the next Games in 2017.
“When the SEA Games are held outside the country, we will treat them as a development Games and field more young athletes as there’s no pressure on them to perform.
“But it’s different when we are hosting it ... we have to get our act right. With the right preparation and strategy, we can do it.
“Besides, there is the feel-good factor involved as the hosts tend to do well.”
He was obviously referring to Singapore, who finished second overall with 84-73-102.
A total of 640 athletes represented Malaysia at the Singapore SEA Games and Khairy complimented sports like diving, sailing, archery, badminton, petanque, women’s basketball, cycling and artistic gymnastics for their golden achievements.
“Our divers made a clean sweep, our sailors had their best-ever Games outing, whereas the compound archers have lessened the pressure on the recurve team to deliver at the next SEA Games,” he said.
“The women’s basketball team regained the gold medal after eight years while our women’s artistic gymnastics team are the best in the region for the first time since 2011.
“Special mention also to petanque for winning their first SEA Games gold medal and, in badminton, we have our first men’s singles champion since 2001.
“At the same time, I’m concerned about some sports which under-performed. We expected it to be hard for football to win the gold but not to win any medal is disappointing.
“We didn’t win anything in boxing compared to the one silver and three bronzes they bagged in Myanmar.
“Athletics and swimming have also declined compared to Myanmar ... it’s something we have to look into.”
The Star Online