TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience
Champion with less than 100 gold medals?
THE 2017 KL Sea Games overall champion country will be determined with the country winning between 80 and 90 gold medals and not 100 or more gold medals.
While Malaysia as host have declared that they are determined to emerge overall champion and see the need to win more than 100 gold medals and probably match the 2001 achievement of 111 gold medals when hosted the last time and emerged champion, Thailand will be the closest rival.
At the 2001 KL Games, Thailand attained 103 gold medals to emerge runners-up.
For next month’s Games, Thailand have boldly predicted 100 gold medal tally.
If Malaysia and Thailand’s target are met, it will mean that between these two countries out of the 11 participating countries, they would bag about 210 gold medals out of the 402 at stake from 36 sports.
While both Malaysia and Thailand managed to win more than 100 medals at the 2001 Games, the Games standards have risen and so has the standard of many participating countries.
Other countries like Indonesia have always been keen competitors in the Games, while Vietnam has emerged as strong contenders in recent years.
An average of gold medals won calculated over the last four Games, sees Thailand topping the list with an average of 96 gold medals having emerged champions in 2009 (83 gold medals), 2011 (100), 2013 (107) and 2015 (96).
Indonesia who hosted the 2011 Games have an average of 78 gold medals over four Games having winning 151 gold medals when they hosted, 53 in 2009, 65 in 2013 and 47 at the last Games in Singapore.
When Indonesia hosted, there were 44 sports and 545 gold medals at stake. At the 2009 Games in Vientiane there were only 29 sports and 372 gold medals at stake, while at the 2013 Games in Myanmar there were 37 sports and 460 medals were at stake. In Singapore two years ago, 36 sports were held for 402 gold medals.
Just based on the averages of the six out of 11 countries, a total of 418 medals would have been distributed between them.
What about other countries like Cambodia, Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste, who probably will win anything between one and five gold medals between them.
Purely based on averages, all indications are the overall champion will be determined by winning less than 100 gold medals.
No doubt Malaysia have calculated their medal hauls and are confident of a 100 gold medal and more, it is very unlikely to happen, even more so with Thailand equally confident of a 100 gold medal haul.
Olympic Council of Malaysia, assistant secretary and veteran and experienced sports official, Datuk Sieh Kok Chi, has boldly predicted Malaysia will emerge as champions and based on
• And as hosts, he expects Malaysia to see between 10 per cent to 15 per cent improvement in the gold tally.
Based on Kok Chi’s analysis Malaysia can finish at the top with around 118 gold if not more.
But despite all ‘tailoring’ indications are that the battle of supremacy is still going to be between Malaysia and Thailand and is going to be a close call.
And with next Games host Philippines and next year’s Asian Games host Indonesia, surely determined to put up a good show, the battle could well intensify.
While the sports and events for the KL Games have been carefully selected to give Malaysia an advantage – as it is usual in all previous Games with host – it is still no guarantee with all the predicted gold medals.
For starters, the National Sports Associations (NSAs) who were very optimistic with their medal target prediction when attended the selection committee meeting in June with the Olympic Council of Malaysia for their inclusion of their athletes for the Games, many have toned down of recent.
In a recent two-day meeting with all NSAs competing in the Games organised by the National Sports Council to determine the actual medal predictions for the Games, many NSAs have started to play down their chances or playing safe.
Among the reasons for their playing down their chances included injuries, opposition for rival countries and in some cases current forms of their athletes.
With the recent performances of athletes at world, Asian and international meets have given a positive impact for Malaysian sports in generally, but has directly added more pressure to perform at the Sea Games level.
Among the sports who have performed well at international level included badminton, athletics, hockey, diving, swimming, track cycling, tenpin bowling, lawn bowl and archery.
There is even questions being asked if the athletes have peaked too early and might have a problems at the Sea Games?
But respective coaches have assured that everything is going well and according to plan and they should have no problems rising to the occasion at the Games starting on Aug 19.
Many NSAs are still coy about making their targets openly, while many have come out openly to express their confidence to win gold medals in their respective sports.
Will Malaysia’s ‘master plan’ to emerge as champions all fall in place, or it will go down the wire having to fight tooth and nail to achieve its target, will all be known on Aug 30.
But everything points to the champion emerging by winning about 90 gold medal.