THE big mistake was to host Sukma (Malaysia Games) during the Fifa World Cup Finals.
Hosts Malacca could have done much better without having to compete with the “greatest show on earth”, held every four years.
The historical state put up posters, buntings and giant banners on the 13th edition of the national Games but World Cup fever was on, being the talk of the town and taking more prominence in public places.
The most important players for the success of the Sukma are the media corps. Previously, they gave life to the Games with wide coverage but sadly over the last couple of Games, the dates clashed with football showcase events – Euro 2008 when Terengganu hosted the event and the World Cup Finals this time.
Sukma in Malacca hardly drew spectators to venues of competitions except for some decent support for a handful of sports, among them silat and boxing.
Sports like wushu and gymnastics were held in isolated places. Wushu was held at the University Technical Malaysia (UTem) Sports Complex, which had no public transport facility, while the seating gallery for gymnastics at the Dewan Platinum Politeknik Merlimau can only accommodate about 100 spectators.
Malacca also faced snags before the start of the Games – delay in the construction of the equestrian centre and the arrival of equipment from Bangkok for the Thai kick boxing exhibition.
There were also complaints from certain quarters on accommodation and the quality of food served during the Games, which the organisers called for a press conference to quickly resolve the issue.
It was also sad that technical officials made glaring blunders, perhaps because they did not have enough sleep after watching World Cup matches live on TV into the wee hours of the morning.
Pahang’s Khairul Adnin Rus, who took part in men’s 20,000m walk had to go two extra laps at the Hang Jebat Stadium for a 50-lap race. Fortunantely, he was not among the medals winners.
In women’s long jump, Perak’s Noor Amira Mohd did not have her last jump recorded due to a blundering official, who accidentally erased the mark before recording it. Much to her disappointment, it was her best effort and she missed out on a medal in fourth place.
Nauraj Singh of Johor was not allowed to make a third attempt in men’s high jump. He had won the gold medal and attempting to beat his 2.15m personal best. But he was timed out before making the last jump.
The objective of the biennial Sukma, which was introduced in 1986, was to provide platforms to expose youngsters and emerging talent to competitions. And the governing body of the Games, the National Sports Council (NSC), should ensure that Sukma remains that way before it loses its identity.
The football competition (Under-23) turned into a mockery. Champions Terengganu had more than 10 Super League players (all professionals) in their side and claimed the title easily for a third consecutive time since 2006.
Sukma is not meant for professionals athletes or those who have won honours on the international stage. But we have even those having succeeded on the world stage in the fray, all for the sake of boosting their state’s medal count.