Friday, February 3, 2017


Level Field 

WITH 196 days left for the SEA Games to be hosted after 16 years, there is mounting pressure to emerge as overall champions.
Not a day goes by without the media asking about medal targets. Although it is still early for forecast of actual medal targets, as athletes for the Games have not even been finalised, the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), National Sports Council (NSC) and Ministry of Sports have been hounded to reveal their targets.
While it has already been determined that Malaysia needs to win more than 100 gold medals from 38 sports and 405 events to have a chance to emerge overall champion, the media still want specific targets for sports by sports.
Malaysia will also be fielding athletes in all events.
The first selection meeting will be conducted by OCM only scheduled in March and the final contingent is only expected to be named after appeals, probably in June.
The Kita Juara programme jointly coordinated by the NSC, the National Sports Institute (NSI) and OCM, with the aim to see Malaysia emerge overall champion, was launched in September 2015 by the Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin.
The first phase, covered 12 months (until September 2016), with about 800 athletes, while the second phase began from October last year and will end in March.
The final phase from April 2017 until the Games will see the reduction of athletes after the selection process.
Malaysia emerged overall SEA Games champions for the first time when the 2001 edition was held here. That was the only time Malaysia had topped the medal standings in the biennial regional multi-Games since its inception in 1965.
OCM assistant secretary general Sieh Kok Chi after helming the body as secretary general for 23 years, had done a detailed analysis of the medal winning pattern of the Singapore 28th SEA Games 2015.
He had then proposed 36 or 37 sports and around 400 events for the KL Games with a projected gold medal tally of 108, thereby assuring Malaysia to be the overall champion as in 2001.
Now with 38 sports and 405 events and with the target of 108 or 110 gold medals, Sieh is 100% confident that Malaysia will be the overall champion, with strong possibilities of surpassing the 111 gold medals won in 2001.
He has even gone on record to say that if Malaysia does not finish as champion he will resign not only from OCM but also from all sports activities because he had failed in my analysis.
Such is the conviction of Sieh who is regarded as the ‘Sifu’ of Malaysian sports.
While we all want to see Malaysia emerge overall champions when the curtains come down on Aug 31 – which is also the Merdeka Day, we must give allowance to several factors which we must be wary of.
Among them include the competition from the participating nations especially counties like Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Thailand and Indonesia have always been frontrunners for the overall title and we cannot take them for granted, just because as host we have a huge advantage over them this time around.
However, with Vietnam’s sports of strength, including the two “gold mines” rowing and wrestling, not contested in KL Games, they will miss out on about 20 gold medals, which will make it difficult for the country to realise its goal of safeguarding its place in the top three of the medal tally, an achievement constantly maintained by Vietnam since the 2003 SEA Games.

Indonesia and Singapore have registered a full contingent for the Games.
Then, we have to bear in mind of injuries which could rule out some of our potential gold medallists. Of course, current form during the Games is going to play big part.
Judging in subjective sports could also throw a spanner, while it most unlikely to happen since we are host.
Already Malaysia’s chart to glory has been mapped out with synchronised swimming and archery to give Malaysia a golden head start even before the opening ceremony of the Games on Aug 19 at National Stadium Bukit Jalil.
The Malaysian are favourites to sweep the first three gold medals to be decided by Aug 18 at National Aquatic Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The compound archers are said to be able to secure a clean sweep of all five gold medals at Merdeka Square on Aug 18.
After the opening ceremony on Aug 19, Malaysian is expecting gold medals from bowling, karate, equestrian, gymnastics, lawn bowls, shooting, squash and wushu.
Towards the end of the Games diving, badminton, track cycling, ice skating, sailing and waterski are expected to see Malaysia reach the 100 gold medal mark.
Everything certainly looks set on paper for Malaysia to emerge champions.
Planning, targeting and confidence is all well and good.
But word of caution though –don’t count the chickens before they are hatched.
It is always good to remain humble and strike when it matters most. It is also good not to let out too much out of the bag prior to the Games as other countries are watching us closely too.

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

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