MALAYSIAN SPORTS – YEAR IN REVIEW




1. Tokyo Olympics

MALAYSIA failed to equal their five-medal achievement from the 2016 Rio Olympics with cycling and badminton providing the saving grace in the 2020 Tokyo edition.

Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik were the stars on the badminton court when they clinched the men's doubles bronze in their debut outing.

Cyclist Azizulhasni Awang cemented his place as one of the legends of Malaysian sport with his second medal, claiming the silver in the keirin final to add to the bronze he garnered from Rio in 2016.



2. Tokyo Paralympics

THE national para athletes had no build-up competitions but still rose to the occasion to achieve the Paralympic Council of Malaysia's (PCM) target of three gold medals.

Powerlifter Bonnie Bunyau Gustin got the ball rolling by capturing Malaysia's first gold in Tokyo, in the men's 72kg category with shuttler Cheah Liek Hou (men's singles SU5) and Abdul Latif Romly (men's long jump T20) also delivering.



3. Lee Zii Jia crowned All-England champion

HAILED as the successor to Lee Chong Wei, Lee Zii Jia secured a long-awaited career breakthrough by winning the All-England in March by upstaging then would be world No. 1 and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark 30-29, 20-22, 21-9 in an epic 74-minute battle.

He also defeated then world No. 1 Kento Momota in the quarter-finals, marking his first-ever win in seven meetings over the Japanese ace.



4. Malaysia on Sudirman Cup podium again after 12 years

A YOUNG Malaysian squad sprung a surprise by ending the nation's wait for a medal in the world mixed team championship in Vaanta, Finland.

The side comprising mostly first-timers battled for more than five hours before staging a superb 3-2 win over Indonesia to reach the semi-finals, assuring them of a podium finish.

In the decider, mixed doubles pair Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See rose to the occasion to stun world No. 4 Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva.



5. Notable sports figures who passed on

IN March, the Malaysian sports community were stunned by the sudden death of national archer Haziq Kamaruddin.

The 27-year-old, who's a medallist at the World Cup, Asian Games and SEA Games and was fighting for a third straight Olympics appearance in Tokyo suffered a heart attack.

We also lost National Sports Council (NSC) director general Zolkples Embong, 62, in October and former national shooter Muslifah Zulkifli, 35, in November.



6. Youngsters steal the show


AIFA Azman’s shock win in the Malaysian squash Open saw her move up the world ranking from 69th to 36th, which earned her the PSA Player-of-the-Month award for November. The 20-yearold also helped Malaysia win the Asian Team Championships.

Johor Darul Ta’zim’s 19-year-old mercurial winger Arif Aiman Hanapi dribbled his way into the judges’ hearts when they chose him as the Most Valuable Player in the National Football Awards. He became the youngest recipient, breaking the record set by teammate Safawi Rasid, who won it in 2018 when he was 21.



7. Retirements


VETERAN diver Leong Mun Yee, 36, took her last competitive plunge at the Tokyo Olympics, making a historic fifth Olympics appearance for Malaysia in Tokyo. In football, evergreen midfielder Mohd Shukor Adan, 42, decided to hang up his boots after winning the Malaysia Cup with Kuala Lumpur last month. Celebrated bowler Shalin Zulkifli, 42, left the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) national set-up last month after serving the nation for 28 years but she continues to bowl in the PWBA Tour in the United States.

Adrian Ang, 33, called it a day after a 17-year illustrious career with the national team that saw him win gold in all the official Games and tournaments.



8. Controversies


FOOTBALLERS’ salary arrear issues continued to plague some teams in the Malaysian League. Super League side Perak were the hardest hit, losing key players like Leandro Dos Santos, Shahrul Saad (pic, in white) Nazirul Naim, D. Kenny Pallraj and J. Partiban and were eventually relegated.

Sarawak United, promoted to the Super League next season, also had an arrears issue, with former club captain Taylor Regan speaking out.



9. KL shocker for JDT


IN a memorable David vs Goliath battle in the Malaysia Cup final, Kuala Lumpur stunned Super League champions and overwhelming favourites Johor Darul Ta’zim 2-0 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

The City Boys ended their 32-year wait for the title, only their fourth in the 100-year history

10. Uproar over budget allocation for sports

TH eer ERE s fo wa r s our a hu par ge slash in budget for sports but plenty of no allocation fo a athletes. In a surprise move, there was tournam r the Podium Programme despite major Games in en Bi ts rmi next year which include the Commonwealth Games in Vietna ng m. ham,

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