Friday, September 30, 2016

Pushing on from Rio

The Rio Olympics ended more than a month ago, but celebrations continue.
Malaysia performed worthily, but their celebrants must not go giddy over it.
The Southeast Asian (SEA) Games is the first step forward, but it is the lowest barometer of excellence.
At the 35th Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) General Assembly held on Sept 25 at Da Nang, Vietnam during the 5th Asian Beach Games, the Rio Olympics performance analysis of OCA member countries was done by the OCA information and statistics committee headed by Zagdsuren Demchigjav (the president of the Mongolian Olympic Committee).
It was well researched and gave a realistic picture of sporting standards in Asia.
The report structured around the following areas: 1. Medal standings and general information; 2. Medal comparisons; 3. Sport by sport analysis and it reviews and key achievements; 4. Region by region analysis and its best sports events; 5. other key milestones and facts.
The committee used historical data sets to compare its improvement and other noticeable changes on the last 10 Olympics by its regions, gender and sports events.
The key findings included:
·        21 Asian nations won at least one medal at the Rio Games and 15 of them won gold medal.
·        Although Asian nations won one more gold medals than four years ago in London, it was still short of Beijing and Athens. Total of 68 gold medals accumulated 22.15% of available gold medal at Rio.
·        Asia captured 21.36% of total medals at Rio, around 2% better than London 2012.It lacks 5 medals from record breaking Beijing 2008.
·        In terms of medal quality, Asia won the highest number of bronze medals in their history at Rio with 86. 54 silver medals saw Asia at joint second highest results at the Olympics. Gold medal accounts for 22.15% of total medals won by Asian nations.
·        In archery, badminton, table tennis and weightlifting, Asian athletes won more medals than other continents.
·        Asia did not win any medals from 8 disciplines including triathlon, modern pentathlon and football.
·        Asia is leading continent in 10 disciplines, which won more than 30% medals or at least more than one gold medal.
·        Asian women has the best performance of the history, collecting 98 medals at Rio.
·        Total of 16 Olympic records and six world records were broken by Asian athlete in Rio.
Asian domination was manifested in sports like archery where six gold medals were won where Korean won five and Taiwan one, accounting for 50% of entire available medals.
In athletics, Asian won 13 medals including four gold but are still placed behind America, Europe and Africa and accounting to 4% of medals won in this sport.
In aquatics, Asian captured 30 medals including 12 gold to be ranked behind America and Europe. It accounts for 21 percent of medals available. Asia was most successful in diving and synchronised swimming. In diving China dominated winning seven gold medals from an available of eight. Singapore won their first ever gold medal in swimming.
In badminton, Asia is totally dominating since the sport was introduced at the Los Angeles. Asian athletes won 86% of medals available so far and captured 73% of total medals in Rio.
Three different countries – China, Indonesia and Japan – captured four of the five gold medal. In women’s singles, India won its first ever silver medal in any women’s category, while Malaysia secured three medals – but all silver.
In boxing, Asia secured 33 percent of available medals and ranked only behind Europe. In terms of gold medals, America captured one more gold medal than both Asia and Europe. Uzbekistan was the best team after winning three gold out of seven available.
In judo although Asia is the leading country in Olympics history, this year Europe won an impressive eight gold medals and total of 25 medals. Asia won 23 medals with 3 gold medals and accounts for 42% of total medals.
Other Asian dominating sports included table tennis, taekwondo and weightlifting.
In terms of region, East Asian countries dominated and captured 69% of total medals with an impressive 50 gold medals. Central Asia won 8 gold medals and a total of 31 medals and South East Asian countries secured 5 gold and a total of 18 medals. West Asia won five gold and a total of 13 medals while South Asia won only one silver medal.
Among the Asian nations who won their first ever gold medal at the Olympic Games include Vietnam, Singapore, Bahrain, Jordan and Tajikistan.
Malaysia won four silver medals (three badminton and one in diving) and a bronze from cycling for their best ever performance in the Games.
It is now time to concentrate on sports where Asians have a realistic chance to win medals and above all to double if not triple our efforts on development of these sports and expose our athletes to high level competition and training with countries who have already made a mark in them.
It’s time for long term planning and stop basking in reflected glory.
It is going to be a tall order for Malaysia to match our collection or better at the next Olympics in Japan in 2020 and unless, we start working today, all our overdone rejoicing would come to nought.

TONY is a sports
Journalist close to
four decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Level Field columns

Level Field
When voluntarism is dying art in sports, people like Datuk Dr Harjit Singh and DSP Balwant Singh, gave it a fresh breath in keeping it alive with their works, dedication and passion for sports.
Both based in Johor, through their Johor Sikh Sports Club (JSSC) and the Royal Malaysia Police Sikh Sports Association, Johor branch (RMPSSA) respectively, jointly organised ‘The Johor Sikh Sports Fellowship Night dinner 2016’ last Friday at the Millisime hotel at Iskandar Puteri.
The dinner was held to honour Johor born national Olympic high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa for doing the nation proud.

Bu what was even more meaningful of the dinner was that it was self-funded – dinner tables bought by supporters – a raffles draw was held to collect funds for the development of sports through the JSSC of which Harjit is the president – which he has been serving for almost 20 years with a break in between for a few years.

Dr Harjit’s name is synonymous in sports in Johor, especially cricket where he is the president of the Johor Cricket Sports Council.
His passion for sports is always overflowing, and his love for cricket is something he acquired from his father Meva Singh, who was an ex-Selangor and renowned Kilat Club cricketer.

A former student of English College Johor Baru (now known as Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar), the good doctor learnt to score at the age of five, earned his personal bat at the age of six and came under the watchful eye of the famous late Mike Shepherdson at the Kilat nets.

Until today, Dr Harjit, whose trademark is his humility, is a firm believer of grassroots development and schools being the foundation of sports.
“Today the lack of sporting facilities and the neglect of schools sports is the bane for national sports development,” said Harjt boldly in his address at the dinner.
“People like Nauraj surfaced through the dedication of his parents and some private support. Imagine if he was discovered much earlier and nurtured, he would be miles ahead in his performance.
“It is sad that support and recognition only comes when one achieves something, when these athletes should have been guided the moment their talent is identified.”
The fact that Harjit and Balwant decided to join forces, not only to honour Nauraj, but to raise funds for further development in the sports of football, hockey and cricket in the state of Johor, speaks volumes of their heart for sports.
That people who rallied around to support this cause is indeed applaudable.
About 230 guests graced dinner occasion which was filled with entertainment of music and songs.

While Nauraj was presented with a memento by Balwant, the vice president of the RMPSSA, he also received a personal donation of RM 1,000 from Harjit.

But the surprise of the evening was when a supporter of Nauraj who attended the dinner, Joanne Joseph with her husband Shashi Raman, made a personal contribution to Nauraj for his training expenses.

“My late father was a teacher in the English College, and he would have been elated that a student of his college (Nauraj) had done the nation proud by qualifying for the Olympics. In memory of him, I want to make this personal contribution to Nauraj to assist him in a small way to further his aspirations to bring more honours to the nation,” said Joanne when making the cash presentation to Nauraj at the dinner where his parents Amarjit Singh and Manjit Kaur were present.

It may be a small contribution, but it was the big heart of Joanne and Shashi that mattered and went to show that Malaysia has many sports loving fans, who in their small way will stand up to assist.

From the dinner, Harjit and Balwant with their committee, raised RM15,000 to be used for development, which is another effort which needs to be lauded, as here is a sports body who does not depend on hand outs or sponsorships, but raised funds through their own effort and support of a sports loving community.

Harjit is also the man responsible for Amarjit to be in Rio to watch his son jump at the MaracanĂ£ Stadium.

It was Malay Malay’s Emeritus Editor, Frankie D’Cruz, when he heard that Amarjit, who largely responsible for the rise of Nauraj, hoping to see his son jump in Rio, that he threw the idea to Harjit to try and raise some funds.

In that meeting in Johor in June, where this conversation took place, Harjit sprang into action immediately and with a few phones calls to his friend had raised RM5,000 in less than half an hour.

The idea was then taken up by the Johor Sikhs Golf Association, whose president Datuk Manjit Majid Abdullah, organised a golf tournament and raised RM10,000. This amount was matched by Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang, while Harjit raised another RM3,500 for a total of RM8,500.

Without doubt Harjit, the former deputy president of the Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) from 1990 to 2003 and chairman of the development, has been very passionate of sports and has his wife, Datin Kaldip, stands behind him strongly in support of his charitable works and passion for sports. She is always seen with Harjit running all the errands and is the organiser from behind the scene.
Both Harjit and Kaldip are down-to-earth, jovial and delight to have for company anytime of the day.
Harjit is so passionate about cricket that he has even brought the game to even schools in Felda schemes and ‘kampungs’ in Johor.