Sabah overall champions again
Published on: Thursday, December 11, 2014

LABUAN: Sabah topped the medal tally in the Bimp-Eaga Friendship Games for the third time in a row, since 2010. Collecting 14 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze medals, the Land Below the Wind were ahead of nearest rivals South Sulawesi (Sulsel) who had 11 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze medals.Their gold haul came from lawn bowl, archery, Penchak Silat, futsal and basketball.

On Tuesday night they failed to collect two gold medals in badminton singles and mixed doubles. However, they added a gold in basketball.

Their biggest disappointments were in football and athletic where the glittering gold eluded them. According to Youth and Sports Ministry's Permanent Secretary Datuk Suzannah Liaw, if swimming was included in the Games, it would have been a bigger harvest.

During a press conference, Youth and Sports Assistant Minister Datuk Masiung Banah said the 8th series of the regional games, competition in all disciplines were toughest.

"We are happy to top the medal haul for three series in a row. The first time was in General Santos, followed by in Brunei and now in Labuan. It is easy to be a champion but to keep the title in a row is not easy. We have to work harder to maintain our lead in the championships to come.

"The Bimp-Eaga Games Sabah take seriously as a warm-up to the coming Sukma. Our target is top five in the national ranking."

Upon return to Sabah, he said it was back to the drawing board to tackle why their track and field, and football failed to rise to the occasion.

"It was particularly painful," he said, "our footballers fizzled out in the Brunei and Papua matches as we were champions in the past."

Coach Razali Mohd Zinin attributed the defeat to his players not playing according to plan and being too slow in possession of the ball.

Sabah, with a 191-member contingent, were the largest as an endorsement and support of Labuan as hosts of the multi-discipline Games.

Masiung congratulated Member of Parliament Datuk Rozman Isli for successfully staging the 8th series of the Games.

Unlike the Borneo Games held in Labuan, which was lacking in logistics and food, he said he was pleased that this time the organization was run smoothly.

Rozman, who sat beside the assistant minister and Suzannah during the press conference, thanked Sabah for the gesture of support.

The MP, who is also the Chairman of Labuan Corporation, said the success was owed to the commitment and dedication of government departments and other organisations.

He hoped that more funds would be available to develop sports infrastructure so that Labuan could host more international events on a larger scale.

On the exclusion of swimming in the Games, he said that it was due to some defects in the swimming complex and the Labuan International School Olympic swimming pool could not be ready on time.

Out of the 202 medals up for grabs, Sabah had an unassailable lead of 42 of the three colours, while Labuan were second highest with 35 medals.

Although the hosts were placed sixth in ranking with five gold, 10 silver and 25 bronze medals, for the Labuan MP it was an achievement of sorts being the smallest island state in the East of the South China Sea.

Sarawak were ranked third with eight gold, ten silver and eight bronze medals, collecting a total of 26 medals. They were behind South Sulawesi's ten gold, five silver and four bronze medals.

Though Palawan was at the bottom of the table, they managed to bag two bronzes.

Meanwhile, Mindanao Chef de Mission Luz Imsave P Obial was impressed with the hospitality she enjoyed in Labuan.

It was her first time to the island. Her 37-strong athletes achieved their target of three golds and went on to collect four silvers and four bronzes.

Team official Lucas Hanoch Sopaena from Maluku shared her sentiments. With only nine athletes in the retinue, the Indonesian province grabbed two golds through distance runner Kesya Haittu in the women's 1,500m and 3,000m race.

Their silver were in beach volleyball and men's 4x400m relay, and their men took bronze in the women's 800m and men's 200m.


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