PETALING JAYA: The Podium Programme was introduced after the disappointment of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where Malaysia returned with a medal haul of 6-7-6.
It is a multi-million ringgit programme aimed at producing athletes with an edge. Focus and resources were channelled into sports science to boost the athletes’ preparation. Several sports were identified as core sports and medal potentials to earn the right into the programme.
Podium athletes enjoy a host of extra benefits, including a better monthly allowance compared to the Kita Juara and back-up athletes. The Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast was the programme’s first test and StarSport assessed how the athletes fared.
Athletes: Nauraj Singh Randhawa (high jump), Muhd Hakimi Ismail (triple jump), Muhd Irfan Shamsuddin (discus).
HAKIMI is probably the only one who will leave Gold Coast with some pride. He chalked a season best to qualify for the final as the fourth qualifier before running out of gas in the final. That still is better than Irfan who couldn’t even manage a throw.
Nauraj, however, failed to make a mark. Despite training in Australia since November, the SEA Games gold medallist fumbled in the final while his training partner Brandon Starc claimed a career high by winning gold with a personal best of 2.32m.
Athletes: Lee Chong Wei (men’s singles), Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles), Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles), Vivian Hoo (women’s doubles).
THE badminton team ended the Games on a high with two gold medals through Chong Wei and Vivian – Chow Mei Kuan (Kita Juara). Chong Wei defied his age to play one of the best matches to beat K. Srikanth while Vivian showed the right leadership to Mei Kuan en route to the gold.
Malaysia lost one gold when defending champions V Shem-Wee Kiong failed to hit form in men’s doubles. Mixed pair Peng Soon-Liu Ying redeemed themselves by beating India’s Satwik Rankireddy-Ashwini Ponnappa en route to winning a bronze. They had lost to the pair in the mixed team final.
Athletes: Azizulhasni Awang, Fatehah Mustapa, Farina Shahwati Mohd Adnan, Mohd Shariz Efendi Mohd Shahrin (keirin/sprint); Muhd Shah Firdaus Sahrom and Muhd Fadhil Mohd Zonis (sprint/1km time trial); Muhd Khairil Nizam Rasol (sprint).
CYCLING failed to win any medals but that’s understandable given the highly competitive field. Malaysia’s best bet Azizulhasni was not in the best form following his lung infection but he did perform well to reach the men’s keirin final despite his condition. The emergence of Shah Firdaus, who stunned Aussie world champion Matt Glaetzer in the sprint and Farina reaching her first final in keirin, were positive results.
Athetes: Ahmad Amsyar Azman, Chew Yiwei, Ooi Tze Liang (men), Pandelela Rinong, Cheong Jun Hoong, Nur Dhabitah Sabri, Leong Mun Yee (women).
PANDELELA and Jun Hoong lived up to their reputations by bagging the 10m synchro gold while the 33-year-old Mun Yee proved that age is just a number with two bronze medals. The rest however, failed to come good. Tze Liang struggled in all his events while Dhabitah was just lucky that she had Mun Yee as a partner to cover up for her uninspiring show.
■ RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS
Athletes: Amy Kwan Dict Weng, Koi Sie Yan, Izzah Amzan.
THIS is the best showing by the rhythmic gymnastic team, finishing with a haul of 1-3-3. Amy’s win in the ribbon is Malaysia’s second ever gold medal in an individual apparatus after Elaine Koon in 2010 (New Delhi). That says a lot about the hard work done. Sie Yan and Izzah also did not fare badly as they helped the team to a silver. Sie Yan also enjoyed success to finish with three individual medals – two silvers and a bronze.
Athletes: The men’s team
MALAYSIA are the sixth-ranked team coming into the Games. They lived up to that, going one better by finishing fifth in the competition. The only blemish was how they were capitulated 7-0 by England. They have to improve if they were to challenge for a gold at the Asian Games in August.
■ LAWN BOWLS
Athletes: Mohd Hizlee Abdul Rais, Fairul Izwan Abdul Muin, Mohd Syamil Syawan Ramli, Zulhilmie Redzuan (men), Azlina Arshad, Nur Fidrah Noh, Siti Zalina Ahmad, Emma Firyana Saroji, Auni Fatihah Khamis (women).
THE team came to Gold Coast looking to improve on their two silver medals from the 2014 Glasgow Games.
It looked like lawn bowls would deliver nothing after early disappointments in the competition. But the dream pairing of Emma-Siti rose to the occasion when they staged a dramatic comeback to win the women’s pairs gold on the last day of the competition. Not a bad way to end it.
Athletes: Johnathan Wong Guanjie (pistol).
HOPES were high on the Olympian to deliver at least a medal. After all, he has risen to the occasion and has beaten Olympic gold medallist Hoang Xuan Vinh of Vietnam during the SEA Games. Johnathan battled his way to get into the finals of the 10m and 50m events but fired blanks on both occasions. Johnathan said he needed to work on his mental strength. A non-Podium athlete Alia Sazana Azahari did well to win a bronze in the women’s 25m sport pistol.
Athletes: Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan, Ivan Yuen, Ng Eain Yow (men), Nicol David, S. Sivasangari (women).
NICOL’S failure to win a medal, let alone defend her gold, is a disappointment. But on the bright side, the team still returned with a medal when Nafiizwan created history by clinching a bronze – Malaysia’s first ever in men’s singles. The overall showing by the young players such as Eain Yow and Sivasangari was also very encouraging.
Athletes: Welson Sim
WELSON ended a 16-year wait for a Malaysian swimmer to reach the final when he made the cut in the 400m freestyle. But it just went downhill from there and he couldn’t improve on any of his timing in all of his events. Promising but still a lot for the Sarawakian to work on.
Athletes: Muhd Azroy Hazalwafie Izhar Ahmad and Muhd Aznil Bidin
THE weightlifters delivered the nation’s first two golds. Azroy even did it in style by setting a new Games record. Definitely two thumbs up for the strongmen.