Finishing fourth is Malaysia’s best bet at 2019 SEA Games

SEA Games 2019 countdown

The 30th SEA Games in the Philippines, from Nov 30 to Dec 11, 2019, will have the largest number of sports – 56 – 13 more than the record set at the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand.

Of the 56 sports, 16 associations are not affiliated to the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and their athletes and officials will be in the self-funded category.

One member of OCM has decided not to participate. Of the remaining 39 national federations, five sports and a few disciplines are in the self-funded category.

In terms of events, the 30th SEA Games with 529 will have the second highest number behind the Jakarta/Palembang 2011 SEA Games which had 545.

After emerging champions in the Kuala Lumpur 2017 SEA Games (145 gold, 91 silver and 88 bronze medals), the question is, how well will we do this year?

Probably not as well since Malaysia is not competitive in at least a third of the sports.

To make the task more challenging, a number of sports/disciplines/events, such as track cycling, diving, water skiing, Pencak Silat – in which Malaysian athletes are strong contenders – have been dropped.

Not considering the results of the 2001 and 2017 SEA Games, when Malaysia was the host, the country emerged second twice (1989 and 2007), fourth four times, and fifth twice.

Overall, a fourth place ranking with a 10-15 per cent of the gold medals should be satisfactory.

After the SEAP Games was expanded to the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1977, 11 of the 21 hosts have emerged champions.

This trend is even stronger from 2001-2017 with host countries champions six times out of nine.

As such, the Philippines is likely to finish ahead of us.

Although the National Sports Council (NSC) was established in the early 1970s, it did not ‘function’ until the early 1980s when the winning patterns changed.

Indonesia and the Philippines joined the SEA Games and Malaysia was caught by surprise by the high standards of their athletes.

In the three immediate SEA Games after 1977, Malaysia only won less than 10 per cent of the gold medals.

At the 1981 SEA Games in the Philippines, Malaysia won 16 gold medals in 248 events to finish fourth overall.

In 1983, Malaysia again won 16 gold medals from 234 events but saw its worst outing by finishing sixth out of eight countries.

Following the poor results, better training programmes were implemented with more government funds provided.

The 1985 SEA Games was the turning point, with much better results.

At the 1989 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia finished second for the first time. Thailand was champion.

Since then, the training and preparation have remained more or less the same.

A core issue is funding which is allocated based on the performance of the sport at multi-sports games.

The performing sports are identified and included in NSC’s programme for funding. The non-performing sports are left to fend for themselves.

The table below shows Malaysia’s standing in the past nine editions in terms of ranking and gold medals.

Sea Games table

It also shows that after finishing as champions at the 2001 SEA Games, Malaysia dropped to fifth at the next SEA Games in Vietnam.

To reiterate, top four would be satisfactory in the Philippines.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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