IT is an old story. Malaysia failed to meet the target of the biggest gold medal haul outside of the country, But wait. There’s also a new story, And it’s about the young.
The youngsters and women athletes made a huge contribution towards the country’s overall medal haul at the Philippines SEA Games.
A total of 74 medals (23 golds, 22 silvers and 29 bronzes) came from the women athletes.
That’s close to 40 per cent of the total of 56 golds, 57 silvers and 71 bronzes won by the contingent.
A total of 70 debutants also contributed a total of 12 golds, 14 silvers and 25 bronzes.
“Of the 772 athletes who went, 396 were first-timers. We had a 27 per cent of our total medals coming from athletes competing in their first SEA Games, ” said National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail.
He pointed out women athletes like shuttlers S. Kisona, swimmer Phee Jinq En, high jumper Yap Sean Yee, gymnasts Farah Ann Hadi and Izzah Amzan all shone at the Games this time.
“Kisona was not expected to win a medal as a player from the back-up squad but she surprised us by going all the way to win the gold.
“Jinq En was an outstanding woman performer, setting two national records and one SEA Games record en route to winning two gold medals in the breaststroke swimming events.
“Farah continued to stamp her mark as the top female artistic gymnast in South-East Asia while Izzah also did well to live up to expectations in rhythmic gymnast.
“In athletics, Sean Yee also made her own history as we have a women’s high jump gold medallist after 40 years. The last Malaysian to win this event was Gladys Chai Ng Mei in the 1979 Jakarta Games, ” said Shapawi, who was also pleased to see more debutants contributing medals this time.
“National back-up athletes from sailing, swimming, athletics besides badminton contributed two golds, three silvers and five bronze medals.
“It is encouraging to see youngsters like Haikal Hanafi and Andre Anura Anuar making their mark in athletics. They will be stronger in future SEA Games to come, ” he said.
Haikal became the new sprint king when he won the men’s 100m, defending the title won by Khairul Hafiz Jantan in the KL Games two years ago.
Andre, also making his SEA Games debut, is the first Malaysian athlete to clear the 8m distance in men’s long jump, taking silver with 8.02m.
Expect to see more of him the next time around.