Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

KUCHING: Sarawak has set a target of 77 gold medals which officials hope will be enough to carry home the overall title in Sukma XIX starting in Perak on Sept 12.

Much has been done to prepare the 700-strong contingent including talent spotting, systematic planning and training, overseas exposure and reviving the Sarawak Games or Suksar, a multi-sports event held at the state level.

“A lot of secret trainings have been done, we have sent our athletes to train in places like China, Thailand, Sabah and even to Canada. We hope out of this trainings and preparations that we are undergoing, we would be able to deliver many golds,” said Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah in a media conference after attending a briefing on Pesta Tasik Biru Bau at his office yesterday.

Sarawak will take part in all 29 sports competed in Perak. Among the sports he is expecting to perform strongly are tenpin bowling, taekwondo, wushu and women’s rugby.

“Our weightlifters have been preparing for the last two years, they came from all over Sarawak, whom the state sent for secret training. Many people are looking at our weightlifters and this news is known by other states, that Sarawak’s team is very strong in weightlifting even though at the last Sukma we won one gold,” he said as he offered an assessment of the chances of the various sports.

“That’s how detailed we look at our athletes,” he summed up.

Nevertheless, he cautioned that even as Sarawak says she is strong, other states are also saying they are very strong.

“We have got a very big target, we want to be champion, it has been very elusive,” he commented while recalling how Sarawak missed the chance to be champion as the host in 2016.

Meanwhile, the Sarawak flag will be handed over by the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to the chief-de-mission Datuk Snowdan Lawan at 2pm on this Saturday (Sept 8) at Century Hotel here.

The Chief Minister will also fly to Ipoh on Sept 17 where he is scheduled to have lunch with the state athletes and also visit some of the competition venues.

“I strongly believe with the kind of preparation that we have gone through, we would be able to achieve the overall champion. From my point of view, after meeting all the coordinators of ACDM, sports official, everyone of them seems to be prepared for this Sukma,” the minister concluded.