NAYPYITAW: Despite failing to achieve their target of five gold medals, the national athletics squad should be commended for putting up a credible performance during the five-day athletics competition at the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar which concluded at the Wunna Theikdi Athletics Stadium here on Thursday.
With a collection of four gold, six silver and three bronze medals, Malaysia were placed fifth in the overall athletics medal tally among eight contesting countries.
Thailand were in a class of their own after retaining their tag as the athletics powerhouse of Southeast Asia with 17 gold, 13 silver and nine bronze medals apart from setting nine games records.
Vietnam seized the second spot from Indonesia after bagging 10 gold, 11 silver and 12 bronze medals with two records while Indonesia who were the 2011 Games hosts could only manage third place with six gold, four silver and seven bronze medals with one record created.
The medal tally, however, was not the main criterion of the Malaysian Athletics Union (MAU)’s effort and its bold move to feature new faces at the current SEA Games should be emulated by other national sports associations.
Muhammad Hakimi Ismail, 22, who succeeded in breaking the national record held by Zaki Sadri in the men’s triple jump with a jump of 16.44 metres shows MAU’s efforts are paying off. Other talents found were high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa and discus thrower Muhammad Irfan Shamsuddin.
Nauraj, 21, maintained Malaysia’s domination in the event after clearing 2.17 metres while Muhammad Irfan in his SEA Games debut broke the national record with a throw of 53.16 metres.
MAU president Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad when met by Bernama after the last athletics event yesterday said he was satisfied with the medal collection as 80 per cent of the squad were making their maiden SEA Games appearance.
“For me, our achievement did not worsen…what we reaped in Palembang, Indonesia was about the same but then Thailand are at Asian level,” he said. – Bernama