Improved performance by Malaysia at Hangzhou Asian Games after tepid show in 2023 SEA Games

HANGZHOU, Oct 9: After recording the country’s worst performance at the 2023 Cambodia SEA Games, hard work in silence saw the national contingent rise like a phoenix at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games to sculpt achievements that many Malaysians can be proud of.

As the curtains were drawn down last night, the Malaysian contingent comprising 288 athletes and led by Datuk Chong Kim Fatt as chef de mission managed to overcome tough challenges to win six gold, eight silver and 18 bronze or a total of 32 medals to surpass the target of 27 medals, thus finishing the competition in 14th position.

However, in terms of the number of medals won at the 19th edition, it was slightly less than the 2018 edition in Jakarta-Palembang, Indonesia (36 medals) and the 2014 edition in Incheon, South Korea (33) and way below the 41 medals won during the 2010 edition in Guangzhou, China.

At Hangzhou, as many as 13 types of sports namely diving, badminton, track cycling, e-sports, equestrian, artistic gymnastics, karate, archery, athletics, sailing, sepak takraw, squash and wushu contributed to Malaysia’s haul.

Only hockey, which was among the 13 sports targeted for medals, failed to live up to expectations, thus meandering a difficult path to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics. And the loss of medals from hockey was replaced by artistic gymnastics.

Based on statistics, the 13 sports that contributed medals showed good progress compared to the 2018 edition in Jakarta-Palembang, Indonesia (12 sports) and 2014 in Incheon, South Korea which saw 10 sports as medal contributors.

At the same time, as many as seven types of Olympic sports contributed 18 medals for Malaysia, consisting of diving, which contributed five, track cycling (four), athletics (three), sailing (three) while badminton, equestrian and artistic gymnastics added one medal each.

When compared to the 2018 Asian Games, only four Olympic sports contributed medals — equestrian (one medal), sailing (three), diving (four) and track cycling clinched three medals.

The six sports that achieved excellent standards at Hangzhou were squash (three gold, one silver and one bronze), karate (one gold and two silver), diving (one silver and four bronze), e-sports (one silver and one bronze ), track cycling (four bronze) and equestrian (one gold).

Several national athletes also displayed exceptional performance, including squash player S. Sivasangari who bagged two golds through the women’s team and women’s singles. and equestrian rider Mohd Qabil Ambak Muhamad Fathil, who won Malaysia’s first gold in the sport through the individual dressage event.

Apart from that, sailor Nur Shazrin Mohamad Latif won the gold medal in the ILCA 6 women’s event and qualified on merit to the 2024 Paris Olympics while the success of Muhamad Arif Affifudin Ab. Malik in the men’s under 84 kg Kumite gold ended Malaysian karate’s 13-year wait for gold.

Two athletes based in the United States, Muhammad Azeem Mohd Fahmi and Shereen Samson Vallabouy, shone with their bronze medals in the men’s 100 metres and women’s 400m. Shereen also helped the women’s 4x100m quartet to strike bronze.

Gymnast Muhammad Sharul Aimy also created history by winning a bronze medal in the men’s vault to snap a 17-year drought while the track cycling women’s sprint team also made history by winning a medal for the first time.

A total of 44 athletes who competed for the first time at the Asian Games won a total of 21 medals while 19 athletes who won medals at the Cambodian SEA Games also won 10 medals in Hangzhou.

Two national records were created by archer Syaqiera Mashayikh in the women’s individual recurve event when she collected 336 points to erase the old record of 330 points and the women’s track cycling squad in the team sprint event after erasing the old record of 49.204 seconds with a new one at 49.025s.

When compared with the performance of other Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia (6-8-18) finished in the top three at the Asian Games behind Thailand which won 12 gold, 14 silver and 32 bronze and Indonesia (7-11-18).

Defending overall champions China maintained their dominance as an Asian sports powerhouse since the 1982 edition in New Delhi when they collected 201-111-71, followed by Japan (52-67-69) and South Korea third (42-59-89).

Even though the achievements of the Malaysian athletes this time can be said to be commendable, it would appear that the National Sports Council (NSC), the National Sports Institute (NSI) and national sports associations need redouble their efforts to ensure that progress continues.

Kim Fatt said the results in Hangzhou were a reflection of the country’s sports scene today and hoped for more attention to be given after this.

“If some sports can be strengthened with the injection of funds and material and moral support from the government, especially the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) and agencies such as NSC and NSI, the national contingent will be able to compete in high-quality competitions and be dominant in certain disciplines,” he told a press conference.

Malaysian sports fans await with much anticipation for the 2026 edition at Aichi-Nagoya in Japan.