KUALA LUMPUR: The national contingent’s failure to hit the 70-gold target at the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines should serve as a wake-up call for all concerned, said Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim Chee Keong.
He said the decline in performance was already apparent after the 2007 SEA Games in Korat, Thailand although Malaysia recovered well to emerge overall champions as hosts in 2017.
“I do not want to make a preliminary analysis before we do a thorough post-mortem. I think it is best for us to sit down and discuss in detail the factors that led to our failure to achieve the target.
“But the fact is that since the 2007 SEA Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, our performance has been on a downward trend. At the 2007 SEA Games we won 68 golds with 216 medals in total and have since been on the decline.
“This is a serious matter and a wake-up call to all parties,“ he said in a special interview on Bernama’s ‘Warna Sukan SEA’ TV programme.
Malaysia won 68 golds in the 2007 edition, 40 golds in 2009 in Laos, 59 in 2011 in Jakarta-Palembang, 43 golds in 2013 in Myanmar, 62 golds in 2015 in Singapore and 145 golds in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.
“The SEA Games is a joint mission of all parties including the ministry, NSC (National Sports Council), sports associations, athletes, officials and coaches, so win or lose it is our responsibility together. We don’t have to point fingers at anyone.
“We need to look ahead on how we can improve in terms of our performance in the SEA Games and how we can catch up with the rest,“ Sim said.
Asked whether the host factor may be a cause of the poor performance, he said it was not appropriate to place the blame on the hosts even though there were clear weaknesses in the judging system.
“If we blame the hosts for failing to reach our goal, I don’t think we can improve ourselves. I think it’s better for us to focus on our shortcomings and how we can overcome them, ”he said.
The national contingent finished in fifth place overall with 56 gold, 58 silver and 71 bronze medals, just behind Indonesia with 73 golds, 84 silvers and 110 bronzes.
Hosts the Philippines finished on top with 149 golds, 118 silvers and 119 bronzes, followed by Vietnam in second place with 98 golds and Thailand in third with 92 golds.
However, Sim said the performances of some athletes had given the country a reason to be proud.
He said their success in winning medals regardless of the colour as well as some surprising victories deserved recognition and should be celebrated.
Among the bright lights in the Malaysian camp were Southeast Asia’s fastest man Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi, women’s high jump gold medallist Yap Sean Yee, badminton women’s singles champion S. Kisona and Dr Yew Weng Kean in e-sports.
“They all excelled with unexpected performances. I think in our self-reflection, self-analysis, we must not forget to celebrate the achievements of our athletes who have worked hard to create success for the country. — Bernama