The 'Negaraku' was only played five times at the Incheon Asian Games which ended on Saturday. Malaysia fell short of the 8-gold medal target. - KAMARUL ARIFFIN/ The STAR
INCHEON: Satisfactory. That’s the verdict of chef de mission Datuk Danyal Balagopal on Malaysia’s performance at the 17th Incheon Asian Games.
An eight-gold target was set, but the 276-strong Malaysian contingent only delivered five golds, 14 silvers and 14 bronzes.
Malaysia also failed to meet the target at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in August. Then, the target was seven but Malaysia ended up with six golds.
Danyal said they knew from the start the task was going to be tough in Incheon.
“It is just that in some events we were rather unlucky. Otherwise, it (eight-gold target) could have been achieved. I do not think that we made a mistake in setting eight as our target,” he said at the press conference to review the performance of the Malaysian contingent.
“The sports that we targeted for golds were wushu (1), squash (2), cycling (1), karate (1), bowling (1) and sailing (2). And we were hoping that others like badminton or diving would provide a surprise gold or two.
“In bowling, we had four silvers and there were unlucky at the lanes.
“The medal count could have been better. But our performance is not all a failure. There are clearly some good showings in some sports that give hope for the future like archery, shooting, hockey and football.”
Danyal, however, did not mince his words when he gave his assessment on sepaktakraw.
“We taught the world the game. Now, even the South Koreans are getting better than us. We are not showing any improvements at all. They were set a two-silver target and they gave us two bronzes.
“This sport really needs to buck up. We are fading away in a sport we once ruled,” he said.
Danyal was also furious with sepaktakraw team manager Mohamed Zamri Abdul Rahman for failing to turn up in Incheon.
“Why take up the post if you cannot come? Since his accreditation had been approved earlier, we cannot make any changes.
“I had reminded all the team managers at a meeting prior to the Games to take their jobs seriously.
“If sepaktakraw don’t need a manager, then why appoint one,” said Danyal, adding that he would include Mohamed Zamri’s absence in his report to Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Danyal reiterated Malaysia must send only quality athletes to future multi-sport events like the Asiad.
“Teams or players that didn’t qualify shouldn’t be sent in the first place. There are some Games, like the Asiad, where exposure is not an option.
“We are here to win and we must make sure they stand a chance of winning.”
He also did not have a good word for the divers.
“We are on a downward spiral. Diving has to take note. Sure the Chinese are good but teams like South Korea are making inroads now,” said Danyal, adding that he would compile a comprehensive report on all the sports and hand it over to the relevant authorities for further action.