PUTRAJAYA, Aug 10 — In a confidence-boosting speech to Malaysian athletes picked for the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games and Asean Para Games (KL2017), Datuk Seri Najib Razak asked them to dig deep inside themselves to give the performance of a lifetime and bring glory to the country.
The prime minister said they could count on the support of over 30 million Malaysians as they do battle with regional athletes at the 29th SEA Games scheduled for Aug 19-30 and the 9th Asean Para Games, from Sept 17 to 23.
Expressing confidence that success was attainable, Najib said that he and all Malaysians were behind the national athletes but despite all the cheering and clapping, in the end it would be the athletes themselves who would determine the colour of the medals.
“We want to see world standard performance by each athlete so that we can be the best in the Asean region.
“So, on the behalf of the 30 million Malaysians we ask you to give your very best so as to bring glory for the country,” he said at the ceremony to hand over the Jalur Gemilang (national flag) to the Malaysian contingent to KL2017 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here today.
Malaysia will be represented by 873 athletes in 38 sports covering 404 events at the 29th SEA Games.
This is the sixth time Malaysia is hosting the biennial Games. The last was in 2001 when the country emerged as the overall champions with 111 goal medals.
The Prime Minister said every Malaysian would want to see the country’s athletes in action on their home ground as a boost to ensure the national flag flew proudly and the national anthem, Negaraku played at every event involving national athletes.
“With this advantage, we are confident history would be created and we want all of you to give your best to ensure the national contingent emerges as overall champions,” he said to the cries of ‘Boleh’ (Can) by athletes at Dewan Perdana in PICC.
Najib also recalled the success of the national contingent in winning 67 gold medals and overall second place in the 1989 edition when he was the Youth and Sports Minister.
After 28 years, the Prime Minister said he was confident that the athletes and the entire national contingent were now more prepared in setting a new benchmark of glory at the the 29th SEA Games.
“Under the leadership of Khairy Jamaluddin as Youth and Sports Minister as well as the involvement of the government through the National Sports Council and the National Sports Institute, we are confident this Games serves as the best platform for our athletes to compete and bring glory for Malaysia,” he said.
At the PICC event shot put thrower Muhammad Irfan Shamshuddin led the national contingent in an oath-taking swearing ceremony to collect the highest number of gold medals as a gift to the nation in conjunction with Malaysia’s 60th Merdeka Day (Independence Annniversary).
The ceremony today saw Najib handing over the Jalur Gemilang to the country’s SEA Games contingent chef-de-mission, Datuk Marina Chin.
Three Malaysian world champions comprising silat exponent Mohd Al-Jufferi Jamari, track cyclist Mohd Azizulhasni Awang and diver Cheong Jun Hoong have been selected to be the flag bearers at the SEA Games opening ceremony on Aug 19 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil here.
The Jalur Gemilang for the Malaysian Asean Para Games contingent was handed over to contingent chief Datuk R. Subramaniam.
Two world champions namely discuss thrower Ziyad Zolkefli and long jumper Abdul Latif Romly will be joined by Olympic 100m T36 champion Ridzuan Mohammad Puzi as flag bearers at the Games’ opening ceremony on Sept 17.
Apart from Khairy, the flag handing over ceremony was also witnessed by former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah. who is also Malaysian Paralympic Council patron, as well as Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tan Sri Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar.
Malaysia have hosted the biennial meet in 1965, 1971, 1977, 1989 and 2001. — Bernama