SHAH ALAM, May 1 — Selangor have set themselves a top-three target for the 20th Malaysia Games (Sukma) that will be held around the Klang Valley from Sept 29-Oct 8.

Selangor State Sports Council executive director Mohamad Nizam Marjugi said, in a bid to achieve that target, the state would feature about 900 athletes to challenge for medals in all 31 sports to be contested.

He said they were also confident of retaining their status as among the powerhouses in this year’s Sukma, which will be known as ‘Sukma XX, NSC 2022’, despite their athletes at the state and grassroots levels lacking competitive outing.

“I dare to set the target because the Covid-19 pandemic has played havoc with the preparations of all states for the Sukma this time. Yes, every state wants to be champion, but we are determined to be in the top three,” he told Bernama recently.

Mohamad Nizam said Selangor would be banking on swimming, archery, shooting, athletics and karate to deliver the gold medals.

He also admitted that it won’t be easy to achieve the top-three target as it would depend on the performance of the athletes, who have not been able to gauge their actual performance levels after not taking part in any competitions due to the pandemic.

“For some athletes, this Sukma is the biggest competition they are taking part in after the pandemic hit the country. Covid-19 has affected our efforts to produce quality athletes for the future but, with the transition to the endemic phase, I feel that the national sports industry will see better days,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mohamad Nizam said their preparation for the 2024 Sukma in Johor was being carried out simultaneously with the training for this edition, with about 50 per cent of the athletes representing Selangor set to feature in the Johor edition as well.

The 20th Sukma, which was supposed to have been held in Johor from March 6-14, 2020, was postponed several times due to the pandemic before it was decided that the National Sports Council should organise it in the Klang Valley.

Selangor are the most successful team in Sukma, having emerged overall champions nine times since the Games were introduced in 1986. The state last emerged as overall champions in the 2016 edition in Sarawak.

At the previous edition of the Perak Sukma in 2018, Selangor finished third with a haul of 47 gold, 68 silver and 67 bronze medals to finish behind Terengganu (56-51-53) and the Federal Territories (52-38-49). — Bernama