KUALA LUMPUR: The outstanding achievement of athletes in the just concluded SEA Games will serve as the benchmark for athletes to prepare for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year.
National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail said the SEA Games is the first platform for young athletes to prove their capability and earn their ticket to bigger challenges at the international stage.
Participating in the SEA Games has always been a base for athletes to be selected for bigger competitions like the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.
“We will evaluate the potential of young athletes before unleashing them at bigger competitions in the future. This is the first platform to prove themselves and start their career or step into the ‘big league’ to compete against some of the best athletes in the region and the world.
“Once they excel in the SEA Games we will absorb them into special high performance programmes like the Podium Programme to prepare them for other major sports events, including the Olympics,” he told reporters at the Main Press Centre based in the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec), here today.
The achievement of the Malaysian contingent shows that the country is not short of talent or back up athletes to take over from the seniors, once they retired.
The achievement of sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan and Grace Wong in athletics for example shows that sports development programmes carried out has shown positive results.
In the 2017 SEA Games, the Malaysian contingent comprised 445 athletes who had made their debut and from the 844-member contingent, 261 are below the age of 21.
Ahmad Shapawi said the achievement and performance of athletes in the SEA Games was the best in the history of the SEA Games.
“No sports has been categorised as failure. Every sport lived up to expectations or satisfaction by displaying good performances,” he said.
He said throughout the competition 18 SEA Games records were renewed by Malaysian athletes, namely five in archery, four in athletics, six in shooting, three in swimming as well as eight National records, namely six in athletics, one each in swimming and archery.
Meanwhile, Malaysian contingent chef-de-mission Datuk Marina Chin said she was proud of the Malaysian contingent’s achievement and performance since Malaysia has emerged as the overall champion for the second time since the 2001 which was also hosted by Malaysia.
“The victory is the result of the commitment by athletes, coaches and officials. This is an ‘exciting journey’ for me and I feel fortunate to have worked with a winning team. It was an awesome team,” said the former sprinter. — Bernama