KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 — It is hoped that the athletics and swimming squads to the 2023 SEA Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia can cover the loss of about 15 gold medals that were won by the national contingent at the 2021 edition in Hanoi, Vietnam but won’t be on offer this time around.
Malaysia’s chef de mission to the 2023 Cambodia SEA Games, Datuk Mohd Nasir Ali said the national contingent is hoping for a miracle from the two sports to replace the medals that are ‘gone’ from sports such as bodybuilding, gymnastics and diving in the last edition in Vietnam.
“In Cambodia, there are sports such as body building and archery that are not on offer while there are also sports where the events are limited, such as diving and weightlifting.
“So these two issues alone have caused us to lose a lot of medals (at the 2023 SEA Games) ...hopefully the young athletes will create surprises in sports such as athletics and swimming to make up for the lost medals,” he said at a press conference after chairing the 2023 SEA Games team manager’s meeting here. today.
Athletics and swimming offer the most medals than any other sports in multi-sports games.
Accordingly, Mohd Nasir hopes that the national contingent can improve on the sixth position achieved at the 2021 edition in terms of the overall medal tally by aiming for a higher target in Cambodia.
At the 2021 Hanoi SEA Games held last May after being postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysia only finished sixth overall with a collection of 39 gold, 45 silver and 90 bronze.
Meantime, Mohd Nasir said the National Sports Institute (ISN) will provide more medical officers, including doctors and psychologists, to help the country’s athletes get treatment (for injuries) as well as psychological support throughout the Games.
“The number of medical team officers provided by ISN this time is 40 people including doctors and psychologists. It’s not enough to accommodate more than 600 of our athletes there, but the number is more than the 30 officials provided in the last edition,” he said.
Meanwhile, Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) Secretary-General, Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin Najib advised the national contingent to be more careful if they want to set a higher medal target for the 2023 SEA Games.
“We see a lot of back-up athletes participating in the SEA Games for the first time so we don’t know if they can achieve a better performance or otherwise. We have to take care of the people’s expectations...we prefer low expectations but in the end we can create surprises rather than set high targets but end up being disappointed in terms of achievements,” he said.
At the same time, he informed that OCM have listed seven candidates- five male and two female athletes- who will be tasked with carrying the ‘Jalur Gemilang’ (national flag) at the official opening ceremony of the 2023 SEA Games.
He said that all of those who were nominated were previous SEA Games gold medal winners while the announcement of the ‘Jalur Gemilang’ bearers will be made before the flag handover ceremony to the national contingent on April 30.
The 2023 SEA Games is scheduled to be held from May 5 to 17. — Bernama