Do in-depth analysis on Cambodia SEA Games debacle

KUALA LUMPUR: Stakeholders involved in the national sports set up must admit the weaknesses in the local sports scene and work on ways to return to be among top medal contenders in the SEA Games, after the recent Cambodian Games debacle.

Sports administrator Datuk V. Radhakrishnan (pix) when analysing the country’s performance said, instead of pointing fingers at inexperienced junior athletes, political instability and using naturalised athletes, the stakeholders should admit the weaknesses in preparations and training, lack of talent development efforts and identifying opponents’ threat.

“As the stakeholders, personalities who have the authority in the sports industry, get defensive and start pointing fingers but it doesn’t look good for the future. Take the bull by the horn and say that we will not repeat this mistake in the future and look at how we can improve.

“If we want to say we are sending young athletes for exposure, what happened to the pelapis (back up) athletes sent to the 2019 Philippines and 2021 Vietnam SEA Games? We may be down now, but we can always bounce back and move up, so start planning from now,” he told Bernama.

Radhakrishnan, who has about 40 years of involvement in sports as a sportsman, entrepreneur and administrator, said the Youth and Sports Ministry, National Sports Council (NSC) and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) have to accept the reality of the poor performances.

At the 2023 Cambodia SEA Games held from May 5-17, Malaysia could only manage a seventh-place finish with 34 gold, 45 silver and 97 bronze, its worst performance in the history of the biennial Games since 1959, and failed to achieve the target of 40-37-64.

Vietnam retained the title of overall champion with 136-105-118, followed by Thailand (108-96-108), Indonesia (87-80-109), hosts Cambodia, which recorded their best showing with a fourth-place finish (81-74-127), the Philippines (58-85-117) and Singapore (51-43-64).

Radhakrishnan said an in-depth analysis is required to identify the weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the national contingent, to avoid a repeat of the Phnom Penh performance in future multi-sport events.

Citing Singapore as an example, Radhakrishnan said the island state was able do well in the biennial Games because they knew where their strength and weakness was and where to target for gold and other medals.

“Once they decide that they want to go for gold and narrow down, they identify which sport, then concentrate, put the effort and do something about it. They chose swimming, fencing and table tennis.

“If we don’t do our homework now, the same thing is going to happen in the next SEA Games, may be the only team we can overtake is Cambodia because they don’t have home ground advantage. I don’t want this to happen, I want Malaysia to perform,” he said.

From the 51 gold medal won by Singapore, 22 was from swimming, seven from fencing, four in table tennis, three each in athletics and sailing, while Malaysia’s main contributions were five in athletics, four each in diving (out of four), karate and pencak silat, and three from taekwondo. –Bernama