PUTRAJAYA: Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein has set a 10-gold medal target for the athletes preparing for the 2006 Doha Asian Games.
After launching the 2006 Gemilang Programme logo here yesterday, Hishammuddin said: “It's a bit early to set a target for the Games, but I am optimistic that we can achieve the 10-gold target.”
At the last Asian Games in Busan last year, Malaysia featured in 25 sports and won six gold, eight silver and 16 bronze medals.
Malaysia's best Asiad haul was in the 1966 Bangkok Games – winning seven gold, five silver and six bronze medals.
Hishammuddin also warned the 26 sports associations preparing for the Asiad not to take things for granted.
“We will assess all the 26 sports' performances in international meets and those who fail to live up to Asian standards will be dropped. We want to send only the best even though we may end up sending fewer athletes to the Games. I don't want the athletes to let me and the country down,” said Hishammuddin.
A total of 733 athletes from 26 sports are preparing for the Asiad and also the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. They are being trained by 69 foreign and 59 local coaches. The total budget for the two Games is RM290mil.
On the new talents selected for both these Games, the minister expressed his dissatisfaction with the sports associations.
“I believe the sports associations are looking for new talents from school. This is not right. They must go to districts and villages to unearth new talents for the 2006 Games.
“As for those athletes in the Gemilang Programme, they cannot take their places for granted,” he added.
He also said he would like to see Malaysia end the gold medal drought in the 2004 Athens Games.
“I am banking on the badminton players to deliver our first gold in the Olympics.”