Malaysia on quest for top 10 finish at Asian Games
Published on: Saturday, August 18, 2018

JAKARTA: After the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April, the national contingent is now focused on the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games 2018. The medal hunt officially kicks off this Sunday (Aug 19).Indonesian President, Joko Widodo is scheduled to open the Games at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium here Saturday with several leaders from Asia attending including Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.

This is the second time Indonesia are hosting the second biggest sporting event in the world after 1962, which was hosted by Jakarta.

The Malaysian contingent led by chef-de-mission Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi are aiming for a top ten finish, targeting at least seven gold medals in events which have previously contributed medals like cycling, karate, sepak takraw, pencak silat and tenpin bowling. The 424-strong contingent this time will be competing in 35 out of 40 events on offer. The five Malaysia will not be taking part are wrestling, softball, baseball, weightlifting and tennis.

Malaysia's first medals are expected to come from three events that kick off on Sunday, wushu, fencing or shooting.

Meanwhile, the Asian Games this time poses a challenge for the national elite athletes who are required to put up a creditable performance or be dropped from the Podium Programme, which was introduced in 2016 to develop Malaysia's top athletes.

Podium Programme director, Tim Newenham has warned that they will be replaced by others if they failed to perform.

With the Games being held in Indonesia, the national athletes will also have to contend with the Indonesians as there is a great sporting rivalry between Malaysia and Indonesia where emotions can run high especially among the local supporters.

At total of 11,686 athletes from 45 nations will be competing this time around with a notable difference – South Korea and North Korea are sending a combined team which will simply be known as 'Korea' for three events – 5x5 basketball, canoeing and kayaking.

The Indonesian government and the organising committee Inasgoc are also taking extra security measures this time to ensure the Games proceed smoothly. Indonesian Police (Polri) spokesman Yusri Yunus said 40,000 police and military personnel are being deployed this time around with security beefed up at the Games venues, airports, shopping complexes, hotels and tourist spots.

At the last edition in Incheon, South Korea in 2014, Malaysia won five golds, 14 silvers and 14 bronzes. – Bernama


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