THE 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is done and dusted.
While the majority of the 179-member Malaysian contingent fought well, there were those who just succumbed meekly.
The omens were never good for the Malaysian contingent right from the start.
The athletes were only set a meagre seven-gold target for the Glasgow Games – after coming back with 12 at the New Delhi Games four years ago.
Still, they couldn’t even hit that lowly target!
Below is the StarSport’s take on the four categories of athletes we have: inspiring, demoralising, promising and worrying.
Not everyone will agree with our assessment, obviously. But here it goes, anyway …
Let’s start with Malaysia’s first gold medallist of the Games – weightlifter Mohd Hafifi Mansor.
He got the ball rolling for Malaysia when he won the men’s 69kg category. It came on the third day of competition – after what seemed like an eternity for the Malaysian media hungry for some good news.
Squash player Nicol David is another. The world women’s No. 1 squash player has hardly ever let the nation down. Being the true professional that she is, she came, she saw and she conquered.
While Hafifi and Nicol were expected to deliver, diver Ooi Tze Liang produced a surprise splash at the pool. The 20-year-old stole the thunder at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh by winning the men’s 3m springboard gold. It was an unexpected win indeed.
It is surprises like this that make for good reading. Everyone loves to see new names on the back pages of newspapers (sometimes on the front page as well).
The badminton mixed team also deserve a pat on the back for getting the job done without Lee Chong Wei. They showed they can handle pressure and deliver the goods.
And who can forget the women table-tennis players. They may have failed to win the gold, but they certainly won our hearts with their never-say-die attitude.
The silver they won in the team event is testament to the hard work they put in day in, day out. They never shirked from their responsibility.
No one expected anything more than a bronze from them. But they, obviously, had other ideas, fighting against all odds to deliver a silver.
Kudos to veterans Beh Lee Wei and Ng Sock Khim for inspiring the team to a silver medal.
Yes, praise to all these athletes for giving it their everything and holding back nothing.
Hockey: The men's team made headlines for the wrong reasons – none more so than the embarrassing 4-2 defeat to minnows Trinidad and Tobago in a group match. Apart from beating Canada 2-0, they also lost 8-1 to England and 6-1 to New Zealand. They finally earned a face-saving 2-1 win over Scotland. In total, Malaysia conceded 18 goals and netted just eight in five matches.
Athletics: Five Malaysians made their debut and achieved nothing – not even coming close to their personal best. The five – Nauraj Singh Randhawa (men’s high jump), Yap Sean Yee (women’s high jump), Jackie Wong Siew Cheer (men’s hammer), Raja Nursheena Raja Azhar (women’s 100m hurdles) and Iskandar Alwi (pole vault) – were total flops.
Rugby: The Malaysian Sevens team were humiliated 52-0 by Wales, 36-7 by Papua New Guinea and 54-0 by Samoa in Group matches. In the playoffs for 13-16th placing, they were outplayed 35-0 by Uganda and 15-10 to Trinidad and Tobago to finish last among the 16 teams. It was the third time in the row that Malaysia finished last in the Games.
Lawn bowls: There were a couple of world champions in our midst but still managed a poor return of medals. Two-time women's singles champion Siti Zalina Ahmad was a letdown, bowing out in the preliminary rounds while former champion of champions Mohd Hizlee Abdul Rais crashed out in the quarter-finals of the men's singles competition. The team is made up of mostly veterans from the Kuala Lumpur 1998 Commonwealth Games squad. Although experienced, yet they failed to land a gold medal for two consecutive Commonwealth Games.
Boxing: No medals to show for in the last three Commonwealth Games. Mohd Fuad Redzuan (46-49kg) and Khir Akyazlan Azmi (64kg) advanced to the quarter-finals. However, three others – Mohd Alnazirul Othman (60kg), S. Jaya Rahman (52kg) and Mirage Khan (91kg) – failed in their opening bouts. Malaysia last won a gold through Sapok Biki (49kg) at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games. Since then, only Mohd Zamzai Azizi has won a medal - a bronze at the 2002 Manchester Games.
Judo: There was not much cheer in judo when Mohd Farhan Uzair Fikri and Nik Norlydiawati Nik Azman lost on the opening day of the competition at the Scottish Exhibition Conference Centre (SECC). Mohd Farhan reached the second round in the men's below 66kg bout after defeating Abubakari Nzige of Tanzania but went down to Colin Oates of England in the round of 16. Nik Norlydiawati lost in the opening bout to Stephanie Inglis of Scotland.
Shooting: Three young debutants – Eddy Chew, Johnathan Wong and Alia Sazana Azahari – did well in the pistol events. They qualified for the finals in their respective events and this augurs well for the future.
Badminton: Lai Pei Jing and Tee Jing Yi showed that they are fighters. The duo even won praises from the international media for their commendable showing. Both are in their early 20s and have time to be groomed into top players.
Diving: Nur Dhabitah Sabri is only 151cm in height but she can walk tall. The 15-year-old showed much promise when she combined superbly with experienced Pandalelal Rinong to win a bronze medal in the 10m platform syncro. She is articulate for someone so young and exudes confidence. She should go far.
Squash: It delivered one gold as expected, through Nicol. The others? It’s always been about Nicol. Without her, Malaysian squash would probably be categorised under the Demoralising category here. This is one sport in dire need of new names to take over from Nicol.
Swimming: There were so many swimmers at the Games but they all seemed contented to just break national records. Is that all an elite athlete should strive for? The national body should up the ante and push the swimmers to make the cut for the semi-fnals or finals. If they are not good enough, don’t send them.
Cycling: Except for Azizulhasni Awang, who won a bronze medal in a challenging field, the others simply under-performed. Much was expected from Josiah Ng but he did not deliver. Josiah is 34 years old this year, so it’s about time the national body look for younger riders to take over. Fatehah Mustapa is also the lone top woman rider. There should be more concerted efforts to widen the pool and not be contended with just a few cyclists.
Shooting: Malaysia featured in nine finals in Glasgow but only Nur Suryani Taibi delivered a bronze. The rest fired blanks. Most of the shooters are experienced but can’t seem to make that final step-up despite all the trainings and overseas competitions. Something is worryingly wrong with their mental preparation. They have to get stronger mentally. A total of RM2mil to RM2.5mil were spent on the shooters a year to train and send them to competitions.
STARSPORT’S GLASGOW COMMONWEALTH GAMES AWARDS
STAR OF THE GAMES
Ooi Tze Liang: No one gave diver Ooi Tze Liang a ghost of a chance but the 20-year-old grabbed the spotlight by winning one gold medal in the individual 3m springboard and one silver medal in the individual 10m platform – to become Malaysia's instant hero. More to come from this modest Penangite.
Eddy Chew: The 19-year-old Eddy reached the final and was even challenging for a bronze medal before finishing fourth in the 10m air pistol.
Johnathan Wong: The 22-year-old Johnathan also made it to the final of the 10m air pistol but finished 7th.
Alia Sazana Azahari: The 22-year-old Alia was in fine form in the 25m pistol final, shooting briliantly to qualify for the final before finishing a creditable fourth.
Nur Dhabitah: The 15-year-old nailed her first medal in her maiden Commonwealth Games – bagging a bronze with Pandelela Rinong in the 10m platform synchro. Cool, calm, confident and poised, this pint-sized diver from Kuala Lumpur is one of the youngest in the national team and may just pull off another surprise in next month's Asian Games in South Korea.
AGAINST THE ODDS
Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo: These two women’s doubles badminton players were only expected to reach the final but they went one step better, turning the tables on defending champions Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponnappa to win the gold.
Azizulhasni Awang: This cyclist may be small in size but he has big ambitions. He won a bronze medal in the fiercely competitive keirin event which comprised great riders from Australia and New Zealand.
Table-tennis women’s team: Everyone expected them to return with the bronze, at best. The women paddlers, however, showed tremendous fighting spirit to prove everyone wrong by going down fighting to a China-powered Singapore team.
Nicol David: What else can you say about our squash queen who has reigned supreme for so long. A rare gem who will be almost impossible to replace when she finally calls it a day.
Beh Lee Wei and Ng Sock Khim: Hats off to veterans Beh Lee Wei and Ng Sock Khim. The 31-year-old Lee Wei, a mother, coach and also over-weight but she played her heart out to help Malaysia win the unexpected silver medal in the women's team. Sock Khim, 31, with her knee heavily strapped after going through four knee surgeries in five years, defied the doctor’s orders to play exceptionally in the Games.
TURKEYS OF THE YEAR
Hockey: Their record speaks for themselves (loud and clear).
Athletics: Did anyone even notice that we had participants in athletics at the Games?
Rugby: Played five matches, lost five matches ... like hockey, their record speaks for themselves.
THE MALAYSIAN MEDAL WINNERS
Mohd Hafifi Mansor (weightlifting - men’s below 69kg)
Nicol David (squash - women’s individual)
Ooi Tze Liang (diving - men’s individual 3m springboard)
Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo (badminton – women’s doubles)
Tan Wee Kiong-Goh V Shem (badminton - men’s doubles)
Badminton mixed team (Liew Daren, Tan Wee Kiong, Chan Peng Soon, Chong Wei Feng, Goh V Shem, Lai Pei Jing, Lim Yin Loo, Tee Jing Yi, Vivivan Hoo, Woon Khe Wei).
Ooi Tze Liang (diving - men’s individual 10m platform)
Pandelela Rinong (diving - women’s individual 10m platform)
Wong Poh San (rhythmic gymnastics – ribbon)
Mohd Zulhelmi Pisol (weightlifting - men’s below 56kg)
Mohd Fairul Izwan Muiz-Mohd Hizlee Rais (lawn bowls - men’s pairs)
Lawn bowls women’s fours (Emma Firyana Saroji, Nur Fidrah Noh, Nor Hashimah Ismail, Azlina Arshad)
Table tennis women’s team (Beh Lee Wei, Ng Sock Khim, Ho Ying, Lee Rou You)
Azizulhasni Awang (cycling - men’s keirin)
Wong Poh San (rhythmic gymnastics – hoop)
Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi (shooting - women’s 10m air rifle)
Pandelela Rinong-Nur Dhabitah Sabri (diving - women’s 10m platform)
Rhythmic gymnastics women’s team (Wong Poh San, Amy Kwan, Fatin Zakirah Zain)
Jong Yee Khie (para-sport - men’s powerlifting above 72.1kg)