Thursday, June 20

M’sia’s gold rush in Delhi


Contingent achieves best ever gold medal haul in Commonwealth Games

NEW DELHI: Malaysia achieved its best ever gold medal haul since its participation in the then British Empire Games in 1950 (as Malaya) when the 2010 Commonwealth Games, came to an end yesterday.

DAY OF GOLD: (From left) Koo Kien Keat, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Chin Eei Hui and Tan Boon Heong with their gold medal at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi. — Bernama photo

The 200-strong Malaysian contingent won gold medals in badminton (3), diving (1), track cycling (1), shooting (2), squash (1), weightlifting (2) and rhythmic gymnastics (1) — surpassing even the 10-gold win achieved when hosting the games in 1998.

Yesterday’s achievement surpassed Malaysia best record of 10 gold medals in Kuala Lumpur, when it became the first Asian nation to host the multisport event.

“It is our best record outside the country, after 1998 (Kuala Lumpur). We have created history and improved our record here,” chef-de-mission Tan Sri Abdul Halil Abd Mutalif told Malaysian journalist in Delhi.

In-form Malaysian shuttlers swatted away their rivals mercilessly to win three out of the five gold medals contested yesterday, which gave a major boost to the gold medal tally but they fell short of the four gold medals won in the 2006 Melbourne Games.

An erratic Wong Mei Choo let the gold slip through her hands, after losing to India’s Saina Nehwal 19-21, 23-21, 21-13.

“I tried my best but no luck,” was Mei Choo’s crisp comment after the game.

Delhi was full of lows and highs for the Malaysian contingent – those earmarked to deliver the medals failed miserably, for instance, not a single medal came from lawn bowls and likewise, members of the athletics team could not even improve their personal best.

Walkers, high jumper, middle distance runner and pole vaulter – all performed pathetically with dismal results.

Hockey, a sport that reached the 1975 World Cup semifinals was in shambles and could not even match their bronze medal feat in Melbourne, finishing eighth in the process.

Unexpectedly, sports that were least expected to deliver medals performed par excellence to save the blushes and keep the Jalur Gemilang flying proudly in a number of venues.

Malaysian sports policy makers may now need to look beyond the 12 gold medals won in Delhi, because there seems to be a dire need to enhance performance of local athletes, especially to face the more competitive Asian Games opponents next month.

At a quick glance only three national swimming records were broken in Delhi, although Malaysians took part in 14 sports.

The 19th edition of the Games ended yesterday, with none other than Australia defending its dominance in the medal tally with 74 gold, second-placed India (38), another emerging sports powerhouse in Asia and England third (37).

Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the determination and commitment displayed by athletes in New Delhi must be continued at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China next month.

Ahmad Shabery who was satisfied with the performance of the Malaysian contingent said the gold medal winning performances of athletes in a variety of sports showed that Malaysia does not just depend on one or two specific sports to win medals.

“In the past we only expect gold medals in badminton, lawn bowls and weightlifting but in New Delhi, Malaysia collected gold medals in cycling, gymnastics, shooting and squash,” he told Bernama here yesterday.

Ahmad Shabery was however, unhappy with the performance of a number of sports, especially lawn bowls which failed to win gold medal in New Delhi.

He added that Malaysian athletes were capable of continuing their superb performance at the Asian Games from Nov 12-27, and winning nine gold medals.

Sports like badminton was using the Commonwealth Games to tune up for the Asian Games since competition would be tough with the presence of world powerhouses – China, Indonesia and South Korea.

“However, I am optimistic that the Malaysian contingent can win nine gold medals. Our best performance thus far was the eight gold medals won at the 2006 Doha Asian Games in Qatar,” he said. — Bernama