KUCHING: Sarawak did not win the overall champions title but they certainly won over the hearts of the fans and participants with a colourful and delightful closing ceremony for the 18th Sukma.
There were smiling faces everywhere at the Sarawak Stadium in Petra Jaya on Sunday as the rivalries and competitions over the past two weeks were cast aside.
The celebration at the end of one of the most well-organised Sukma included traditional dances, musical performances and a video presentation capturing magical moments during the Games. A fireworks display also illuminated the clear Petra Jaya skyline.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem were among the crowd of more than 40,000 present to witness the curtains coming down on the Games.
Selangor emerged overall champions for a record ninth time after winning 59 golds, 73 silvers and 63 bronzes. Sarawak finished a close second with a 57-43-59 haul with the contest to top the medal standings going right down to the wire.
As expected, Malaysia’s new sprint king Khairul Hafiz Jantan was named the best male athlete of the Games.
The 18-year-old Malaccan became an overnight sensation after breaking the national 100m record with an astonishing 10.18 run at the Sarawak Stadium. He shattered Watson Nyambek’s 10.30 record which had stood since 1998.
Apart from the 100m, Khairul also won golds and broke Sukma records in the 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m.
“It is a great feeling to win the best athlete award of the Games,” said Khairul.
“My accomplishments in Sarawak are the best ever in my athletics career. I am delighted with my performances here.”
Nur Aqilah Yusof of Terengganu won the best female athlete award for her heroics in smashing a national record and winning three golds and two bronzes in archery.
The 17-year-old nailed the national record in the women’s 70m recurve and won golds in the 60m recurve and team recurve (Olympic round). Her two bronzes came in the 30m recurve and individual recurve (Olympic round).
“I can’t believe it. I never expected to be named the best athlete of the Games,” gushed Nur Aqilah.
“My target in Sarawak was just to do better than in Kangar (in 2014) as I did not win any medals then. Breaking the national record was the last thing on my mind.”
Perak will host the 19th Sukma in 2018.