No ‘rich pickings’ at 2023 SEA Games, less gold in sight: OCM

KUALA LUMPUR: The lack of ‘gold pickings’ at the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia is seen to have a major impact on the gold medal tally that the Malaysian contingent can project to win at the biennial event.

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary-general Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin Mohd Najib (pix) said Cambodia’s decision to list more traditional sports may cause the country’s medal collection to decrease or at least equal the achievement of the 31st edition in Hanoi, Vietnam in May.

“Among the traditional sports that will be contested are fin swimming, Cambodian chess, wrestling and bokator. We have to be realistic because many sports that (we) always win gold are reduced in Cambodia, so we have to accept the reality that we will not get as many gold medals as in Vietnam.

“We need to focus on the narrative that in Cambodia, many sports (events) have been reduced, for example, diving from eight events to two events, so in our target for gold, maybe we will lose up to 12 gold medals,“ he said.

He said this after the Post-Games Meeting and Appreciation for the Team Management and Secretariat of the Malaysian Contingent of the 31st SEA Games chaired by the head of contingent (CDM) Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad.

At the 31st SEA Games, Malaysia finished sixth after winning 39 gold, 45 silver and 90 bronze medals, surpassing the country’s medal target of 36-35-75.

In addition, Mohd Nazifuddin said the services of young athletes are much needed in the national contingent in Cambodia.

“We discovered after the Malaysia Games (Sukma) that there many young talented athletes and we believe that (in Cambodia) the two sports with many events are athletics and swimming. So it is necessary for our young athletes to reach the podium.

According to him, OCM will hold a selection on Oct 11 to determine the size of the contingent and will likely send a smaller mission but with the prospect of good medal returns.

Meanwhile, Nur Azmi said preparations for the 2023 SEA Games will certainly be more organised and efficient after the meeting held today.

The 2023 SEA Games are scheduled to take place from May 5 to 17.-Bernama