The 30th SEA Games will be officially opened in less than a month at Philippines Arena, Bulacan – making history along the way.
This year is the 60th anniversary of the Games’ founding in 1959. It will be the largest ever SEA Games, with 56 sports in over 12 disciplines and 531 events.
It will have 10 new sports – eSports, jujitsu, kickboxing, kurash, modern pentathlon, obstacle course race, sambo, skateboarding, surfing, and underwater hockey. It will also see three new disciplines – basketball 3×3, beach handball and duathlon.
The Games will witness the largest number of subjective combat sports – 13 to be exact – comprising arnis, boxing, jujitsu, judo, karate, kickboxing, kurash, muay Thai, pencak silat, sambo, taekwondo, wrestling, and wushu (sanda).
The sports competitions will be held in four clusters, the Clark Cluster, the Metro Manila Cluster, the Subic Cluster and other areas.
How well will the Malaysian contingent perform?
Malaysia hosted the 29th edition from Aug 19-30, 2017, ending the campaign as overall champion as expected, winning 145 gold medals out of a total of 404 contested.
Being the host, Malaysia had certain advantages, which were maximised by the organising committee. For example, diving events were increased from the normal eight to 13 as were track cycling events. Pencak silat events were increased from 14 to 20.
In addition, the events of a number of sports, such as boxing, fencing, judo and weightlifting, were reduced by half.
What happened in 2017 did not go unnoticed and was quickly picked up by Philippines SEA Games organising committee. As such, the 30th edition has some rather lopsided events, such as diving with only four events, track cycling totally excluded and pencak silat reduced from 20 events to only nine.
From the table below, the Malaysian contingent has lost 50 gold medals in the forthcoming Games due to the exclusion of many events as well as a number of sports and disciplines (six to be exact).
Assuming the Malaysian contingent performs just as well as it did in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, the maximum number of gold medals which the contingent can win will be 95 (145 minus 50).
Hopes of winning gold medals from the over 20 new sports, disciplines and 130 events in the 30th edition are very slim, as most of these are new to Malaysia. I have carefully gone through the list of sports and events (see table below) and have set 80 gold medals as the target for Malaysia in the 30th SEA Games.
As for overall ranking, Malaysia’s record in the SEA Games immediately after being host has not been encouraging:
• Champion in 2001, fifth in 2003.
• Runner-up in 1989, fourth in 1991.
• Fifth in 1977, also fifth in 1979.
As such, Malaysia should be rather contented if it can finish fourth this year. The Philippines is certain to be champion, with Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore fighting for second to sixth positions.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.