LANGKAWI: The SEA Games post-mortem meeting on Thursday will not be pretty.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is calling for immediate action to halt the decline of badminton, sepaktakraw, athletics and swimming, all of which have traditionally brought in the medals for Malaysia.
The meeting, to be attended by the National Sports Council (NSC) and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), will assess the performance of the Malaysian team at the Myanmar SEA Games in December.
The Malaysian team were given a 40-gold target for the Games, which they surpassed by winning 43 golds.
However, only one gold was secured from badminton (Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei in the women’s doubles), four from athletics (Muhammad Irfan Shamshuddin from men’s discus, Mohd Jironi Riduan in men’s 800m and 1,500m, and Nauraj Singh Randhawa in men’s high jump), four from swimming (Christina Loh for women’s 100m and 200m breaststroke, Daniel Bego for men’s 400m freestyle, and Khoo Cai Lin in women’s 800m freestyle) and none from sepaktakraw.
With five golds up for grabs in badminton, 46 from athletics, 41 from swimming and 10 from sepaktakraw, the Malaysians obviously could have done a whole lot better.
“I’ve rung the alarm bell for badminton, sepaktakraw, athletics and swimming which have shown a consistent decline over the last few years. There needs to be an intervention now to ensure that we demonstrate a better showing at the next editions in Singapore (2015) and Kuala Lumpur (2017) and at other major events like the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio,” said Khairy after attending the opening dinner of the 12th Royal Langkawi International Regatta on Tuesday.
“Looking beyond the medal target, the long-term development of some of the multi-disciplinary sports like swimming and athletics is still wanting. The same goes for road cycling,” he added.
The success of the SEA Games contingent was down to sports like diving which made a clean sweep, winning all nine golds from the events. Khairy said Malaysia have become far too dependent on martial art sports like wushu and karate to save them the blushes.
It is not all bad news though as Khairy pointed out some positives from the Games, such as sailing winning eight medals, including two golds, from 13 events.
Olympian Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy and the team of Mohd Faisal Norizan and Ahmad Shukri Aziz delivered the gold in the Laser Standard and International 420 events respectively.
“Looking ahead at Rio 2016, realistically - bearing in mind we still have not won a gold medal at the Olympics – our biggest medal chances will come from badminton, cycling, diving and maybe archery,” he said.
“But sailing is something that is coming up in Malaysia. I’d really like to develop the sailing programme and have more of our sailors compete at the Olympics.”