|Malaysia's SEA Games chef-de-mission Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria with the national divers at the National Institute of Sport in Bukit Jalil on Friday. - IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/ The STAR|
KUALA LUMPUR: Fifty – more or less. That’s the gold medal target set for the Malaysian contingent for next month’s SEA Games in Singapore.
Initially, the athletes were not set any targets as chef de mission Datuk Norza Zakaria had said that the focus was to provide the junior athletes with exposure.
But Norza said they’ve had to make a U-turn after being questioned by several stakeholders.
“In line with this, we’ve decided to set a gold medal target for the contingent ... it could be 50 or somewhere around that. We’re working on it with the associations, National Sports Council (NSC), National Institute of Sports (NSI) and the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM),” he said after meeting officials and athletes from seven sports associations – petanque, water polo, diving, squash, fencing, floorball and swimming – on Friday.
At the Myanmar SEA Games in 2013, Malaysia won 43 gold medals.
Malaysia will compete in 35 sports in Singapore, where 373 gold medals are up for grabs.
Overall, there will be 39 sports (402 events) with 402 gold medals on offer at the 28th SEA Games.
The sports are swimming, synchronised swimming, diving, waterpolo, archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, billiards and snooker, bowling, boxing, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, fencing, floorball, football, golf, gymnastics, hockey, judo, netball, petanque, rowing, rugby 7s, sailing, sepak takraw, shooting, silat, softball, squash, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, dragon boat, triathlon, volleyball, wakeboard and waterski and wushu.
Malaysia won’t compete in triathlon, traditional boat race, canoeing and softball.
Norza said that he has already met with 18 sports association, and “there are 17 more to go”.
“The objective is to find out what are the problems faced by the various teams and if they need any help,” he said.
“Apart from telling them to be disciplined and stay focused, I also reminded the teams that there is no Games Village this time ... they will all stay in hotels.
“So, communication may be a bit of a problem during the Games.”
He also said that each sport will, for the first time, have an officer from NSI so as to ensure that they have the necessary support for the Games.
“In previous Games, we received feedback that there was no support from the NSI for some sports. This time, the NSI officer will report to us each day and we will see that they get the support they need,” he said.
The chef de mission also announced almost 70% of the Games-bound athletes have undergone doping tests.
“We plan to test 507 athletes and we’ve tested 374. We hope to get it done in the next two weeks,” he said.
There will also be a three-day national camp for the SEA Games contingent from May 22-24 in Putrajaya.