Athletes capable of exceeding target, says Saddiq

All for the country: The Malaysian contingent for the Indonesia Asian Games posing with the Jalur Gemilang at Dataran Putra in Putrajaya yesterday. — MOHD SAHAR MISNI / The Star

PUTRAJAYA: Seven is the magic number for Malaysia at the Indonesia Asian Games from Aug 17-Sept 2.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said the Malaysian contingent aim to bring home at least seven golds.

He announced the medal target after the flag-handing ceremony yesterday, which was attended by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Malaysian Cabinet who also wished the national contingent good luck in their pursuit of glory at the Asiad.

Mahathir later passed the Jalur Gemilang to chef de mission Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi, who handed it to karate exponent and flag bearer Syakilla Salny Jefry Krisnan.

Saddiq said the official medal target was agreed upon after consulting the stakeholders from the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), National Sports Council and National Sports Institute.

“We set the target to win seven golds but if we’re lucky, the athletes are capable of delivering 11.

“We decided to set seven golds as we don’t want to put undue pressure on the athletes to perform.

“The athletes are also there to perform on the day of competition and suffice to say that we want them to better the previous achievement from Incheon, South Korea, four years ago.

“The position (overall finish) is not important, the priority is for them to win seven golds.

“Cycling, silat, karate, bowling, squash, wushu and sepak takraw should be among the sports we hope can deliver gold,” said Saddiq.

At the last Asiad in Incheon, Malaysia bagged five golds, 14 silvers and 14 bronzes to end up 14th in the overall standing.

Malaysia’s best achievement at the Asian Games was winning nine golds, 18 silvers and 14 bronzes to finish 10th in Guangzhou in 2010.

OCM president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria agreed with Saddiq but believes the contingent must surpass the seven-gold target to have any chance of finishing in the top 10.

“If we talk about a top 10 overall finish, we have to better the target.

“There are many sports capable of winning gold but we have to take into account things like injuries,” said Norza.

Malaysia are sending 426 athletes to compete in 35 out of 40 sports at the Asian Games.

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