PETALING JAYA: A top 10 finish is not possible for Malaysia.
But that’s alright mate, as the athletes showed many positives at the 28th Commonwealth in Gold Coast.
Malaysia finished 12th with a medal haul of 7-5-12 – that’s one gold medal more than the Glasgow Games four years ago.
The seven golds came from weightlifting (2), badminton (2), diving (1), lawn bowls (1) and rhythmic gymnastics (1).
A total of 99 men and 76 women competed but none were hauled up for keeping late nights in the land of Surfers Paradise on their event days.
None broke the rules or showed poor sportsmanship – and let’s hope that none of the random dope tests carried out during the Games will be positive.
These athletes instead were breaking records, upsetting world beaters, winning respect and setting new personal best – at least a handful of them.
Special mention must go to 22-year-old cyclist Muhd Shah Firdaus Sahrom, squash player Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan, sprinter Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli, paddlers Ho Ying-Karen Lyne and swimmer Tern Jian Han for making heads turn with their unexpected show of class in their respective fields.
Nafiizwan and Ho Ying-Karen bagged their sports first individual medal in squash (men’s singles) and table tennis (women’s doubles) respectively while Jian Han broke former top backstroker Alex Lim Keng Liat’s long standing record in the men’s 50m backstroke to reach the final.
Zaidatul followed in G. Shanti’s footsteps by reaching the women’s 100m semi-finals.
Shah Firdaus defeated Australia’s king of sprint Matt Glaetzer in his own backyard. The Aussies could not accept it – as they had their eyes set on Azizulhasni Awang but Shah Firdaus came from nowhere to steal the show.
The Melbourne-based Shah Firdaus eventually finished fourth – but what he learnt from the Games was invaluable.
“It showed that even a kampung boy like me can stand tall against the giants of cycling. It will only spur me to achieve greater success,” said Shah Firdaus.
Podium Programme athletes did better but the Kita Juara and back-up team should not be ignored as out of 81 representatives, seven won medals and three – Jian Han and weightlifters Mohd Fazrul Azrie Mohdad and Siti Aisyah Rosli – set new national records.
Inspired by some of these strong showing, including Lee Chong Wei’s gold-medal feat in ruthless fashion on Sunday, many athletes have returned home with renewed confidence and determined to come back for another shot at stardom at the 2022 Birmingham Games.
But there have been bitter disappointments and near misses too. And there are athletes who were just completely out of depth.
Sports such as badminton, shooting, diving and athletics should be on the lookout for new stars to take over from some of their seasoned campaigners.
There are just four more months before the Indonesia Asian Games.
It’s not too far away and all sports need to make quick reviews, adjustments, self-checks and improvement to put another solid showing to underline progress. Only then, they can nail a perfect 10 for good effort.
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