By NG WEI LOONweiloon@thestar.com.myPhotos by GLENN GUAN
THE Malaysia contingent bound for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne had a taste of the easygoing Down Under hospitality in a reception hosted by the Australian High Commission in Malaysia recently.
However, our athletes can expect no special treatments from the host when the Games go into full swing starting from March 15-26.
At the Games, Malaysia will be represented by a total of 160 athletes and 84 officials.
Despite the absence of the Australian Commissioner James Wise, who was away in Australia discussing trade opportunities available in Malaysia, about 40 of the athletes comprising women's paddlers, women's cagers and the artistic gymnastics team as well as officials who have yet to leave for Melbourne were treated at the reception.
Among present at the ceremony held at the Australian High Commissioner’s residence at Jalan Langgak Golf in Kuala Lumpur were Deputy Youth and Sport Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai, Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar, OCM vice-president Low Beng Choo, OCM secretary general Datuk Sieh Kok Chi and chef-de-mission Datuk Seri Kee Yong Wee.
Acting Australian High Commissioner Peter Doyle extended the High Commission’s best wishes to the Malaysia contingent in its mission to bring home 10 gold medals from the Games.
“Melbourne is the sports capital of Australia with a strong history in hosting major sports events,” said Doyle when he referred to 1956 Melbourne Olympics as a highlight.
“We are pleased that Australia and Malaysia are not just competing against each other in the international arena. We are pleased that both nations are collaboration in uplifting sports standards.
“Besides sports, we have also fostered strong ties through migration, education and cultural exchange,” added Doyle, who credited the athletes as sports ambassadors for the country.
Liong echoed that Australian sports experts have been appointed to assist Malaysia's athletes to fulfil their potentials.
“We have faith in our athletes to shoulder our challenges in the upcoming Games,” Liong added.
Meanwhile, Kee will be walking down memory lane as he leads the Malaysia n contingent into the Games. For Kee, he will be revisiting Melbourne after a lapse of more than 40 years.
“I arrived in Melbourne four months after the conclusion of the 1956 Olympics. I was there for six years. I had a wonderful experience at Melbourne University. Although I took up the challenge to lead the team after much persuasion, I am looking forward to going back to Melbourne after such a long time,” Kee explained.
“Although the High Commission here in Malaysia is bidding farewell to us with a thoughtful reception, Melbourne will be receiving us with open arms. We definitely appreciate the goodwill gesture.”