Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kingdom aiming high as Malaysia set sights on 111 SEA Games golds

Kingdom aiming high as Malaysia set sights on 111 SEA Games golds

The Cambodian delegation attends the Opening Ceremony of the biennial Southeast Asian Games in Singapore’s National Stadium on June 5, 2015. AFP
The Cambodian delegation attends the Opening Ceremony of the biennial Southeast Asian Games in Singapore’s National Stadium on June 5, 2015. AFP

Kingdom aiming high as Malaysia set sights on 111 SEA Games golds

As Thailand push to zealously safeguard their status as the region’s leading medal winners and Cambodia drive to overcome the disappointment of the last edition, the hosts of the 29th SEA Games, gearing up for a colourful opening in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, are targeting the same number of gold medals Malaysia won to top the tally in 2001 when they last staged the biennial event.

Though Malaysia were fourth in the gold tally behind Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam in the previous edition, the country is hoping to replicate its astounding success 16 years ago as hosts when they exceeded all expectations to grab 111 golds to emerge as the overall winners for the first and so far only time.

Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin claimed the target as realistic, one that had been set after analysing the performance of athletes and holding discussions with each sports association.

According to Malaysian sports analysts, to boost the gold yield from the 62 in Singapore to as high as 111 in just two years could be a steep challenge, though the country’s prime sports administrators are relying on successes in athletics, aquatics, bowling, cycling, gymnastics, karate, lawn bowls, sailing, pencak silat, waterskiing and squash to take them to that magic number.

There are 405 gold medals on offer from 38 disciplines this time, compared to the 391 that were claimed in 32 events back in 2001.

Singapore, to borrow from the event’s slogan in 2015, truly “Celebrated the Extraordinary” by plucking 84 gold medals, just 11 shy of table-toppers Thailand two years ago. With that grand show at home in mind, the city-state will be aiming to deliver the country’s best ever overseas showing. Singapore has selected the biggest away contingent of 569 athletes to compete in 35 of the 38 events.

Indonesia chasing glory days
While Rio Olympics sensation Joseph Schooling will lead Singapore’s gold-medal charge in swimming, the discipline that netted them 23 in 2015, sailing and table tennis players could play a significant role in boosting the bullion count.

Another country falling back on historic achievements for inspiration this time round is the Philippines.

Having been overshadowed in the gold count by Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia last time, the Filipinos have raised their expectations, angling for 50 golds compared to the 29 they picked up in Singapore.

In the last five editions, the Philippines have not been able to get anywhere near their record haul of 113 when they hosted the 2005 Games in Manila.

For a country dealt a sporting blow when President Duterte announced its withdrawal from the hosting rights for the next edition in 2019, reaching the target of the 50 golds they have set out for would take them close to their best ever over-seas haul of 57 in Singapore in 1993.

In the all-time gold-medal race, Indonesia are just one short of Thailand’s 1,714, but the country has struggled over the past few cycles to get back to its glory days. Though the Indonesians have so far avoided making projections, they will be keen to figure high up in the medal honours.

Vietnam is another nation gradually building on its strengths, though it usually is among the region’s best.

If Cambodia went wild in celebrations over its haul of fame in Myanmar in 2013, the next edition was one of the most disappointing of the past two decades. With just one gold to show from Singapore, and that a team effort in sepak takraw, Cambodia will be banking on some notable improvements made by some of the Kingdom’s athletes over the past two years for a healthier return this time.

The country’s sports administrators, led by National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Secretary-General Vath Chamroeun, have come up with several developmental programmes to ensure that the gold-medal yield in Malaysia will be between six and eight.

Kenny out to improve on bronze
With Asian Games gold-medallist and Rio Olympics qualifier Sorn Seavmey leading the gold hunt in taekwondo, the Kingdom will be looking to its petanque players to deliver a clutch of medals.

The recent successes of the wushu team have raised hopes of more medals, while the introduction of khun Khmer, traditional Cambodian kickboxing, should work to the Kingdom’s advantage. International boxing could also bring more cheer to Cambodia, whose potential for medals is the brightest in sepaktakraw.

While the country’s footballers have a tough task on hand in a “group of death” alongside such strong teams as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, the basketball team may be on the lookout for a breakthrough this time. The team is mostly made up of Cambodian-American players who will be hopeful of a better performance than the close fifth place they managed in Singapore.

The country’s top male player Bun Kenny is shaping up well to retain his singles bronze medal in tennis following his impressive performance last month in the Kuala Lumpur Open, where he lost the final to Indonesia’s David Sustanto, who stopped him in the Singapore Sea Games semifinals in 2015.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea