THE Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) believe their athletes can return with seven gold medals from the Vietnam Sea Games on Nov 21-Dec 2.
In the 2019 Philippines edition, Malaysia won five gold from athletics.
However, the Sea Games in Vietnam could become another casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We hope the Sea Games in Vietnam will be held as scheduled, and not postponed or cancelled due to Covid-19.
“Our athletes need the Sea Games to remain competitive as they have not participated in many competitions in the last two years due to the pandemic.
“They are now keeping fit through online training programmes ahead of the Games,” said MAF president Datuk S. M. Muthu yesterday.
Malaysia won gold in the 2019 Games through Haiqal Hanafi (men’s 100m), Andre Anura Anuar (long jump), Lee Hun Wei (long jump), Irfan Shamsuddin (discus throw) and Yap Sean Yee (women’s high jump).
The athletics team also added another nine silver and seven bronze.
At the recent Kazakhstan Memorial Championships, Malaysia returned with a 2-2-1 haul from eight athletes.
Although the height, distance and timing of the national athletes in Kazakhstan were not impressive, the MAF believe they can perform well if given a chance in Vietnam.
“We believe our athletes will defend their five gold won in the 2019 Games. In fact, the medal haul could be higher in Vietnam,” said Muthu.
Hosts Vietnam have sounded unwilling to hold the Games, while many of the Sea Games Federation (SEAGF) members are also battling their own wars in controlling the pandemic.
Vietnam have been given until July 8 by SEAGF to come up with more concrete news from their government regarding the Games.
On Friday, VnExpress International, a Vietnam online portal, claimed that the Games could be postponed to April next year.
“Countries in this region hope that Vietnam will decide soon whether they will be hosting the Games in November.
“We can plan accordingly if the Games is next year,” he added.
However, it will not be ideal for athletes if the Sea Games is moved to April next year as they also need to prepare for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July and the Hangzhou Asian Games in September.