After placing 14th in Asian Games, Hannah Yeoh says Malaysia’s no-gold medal target likely to remain

“If something is good for the athletes, why not just continue with it?”

That is the view of Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh after arriving home from the Hangzhou Asian Games this afternoon.

Yeoh said the formula of only targeting the total number of medals without specifying their colour, helped many of our athletes surpass their best in China.

At the end of the two-week extravaganza, Malaysia finished 14th out of 45 in the table with six gold, eight silver, and 18 bronze medals. It was the third-best Southeast Asian nation behind Thailand (12-14-32) and Indonesia (7-11-18).

“When we set a high target, we are lambasted for being unrealistic. If we set a low target, critics will say we do not have faith. If there is no target, they will say we have no confidence,” said Yeoh.

“For this Asian Games, upon the advice of the Nippon Sport Science University (NSSU), we set a target of 27 medals, regardless of colour.

“That took the pressure off the athletes. We saw some athletes deliver good results and contributed to our final haul.”

When asked if this means that the ministry, the National Sports Council, and Olympic Council of Malaysia would continue not setting gold targets, Yeoh replied: “If something is good for the athletes, why not just continue with it?

“I am convinced that if we put in the effort, the results will come.”

She added the athletes felt that not having a gold target was a boon, as even those who won bronze medals were celebrated.

Yeoh also said officials from NSSU will be in Malaysia next month to help discuss plans for the 2026 Asian Games in Nagoya, Japan.

“We will start planning for the next Asian Games from now. As for the Road to Gold programme (for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics), we will meet soon to discuss the way forward,” said Yeoh.

Separately, Yeoh said her ministry would not look at the medal tally. Instead, it will look at improvements made by individual sports.

For instance, kabaddi finished last at the 2018 Games, but was fifth in Hangzhou, while athletics ended a 41-year wait for a medal in the men’s 100m.

She also praised the Malaysia Karate Federation (Makaf) after Muhammad Arif Afifuddin Ab Malik won Malaysia’s final gold medal in China, in the below 84kg event.

Lovelly Anne Robberth won silver in the women’s individual kata event before teaming up with Naccy Nelly Evvaferra Rojin and Niathalia Sherawinnie Yampil to win another silver in the team event.

“We gave Makaf an RM1 million grant for the 19th Asian Senior and Para-Karate Championships in Melaka in July. In that tournament, the kata team won a bronze, but captured a silver in China,” she said.

“Lovelly and Arif finished seventh in their individual events but won medals in the Asian Games.

“We now have new sporting icons from the Asian Games. The ministry wants Malaysia to have potential winners from many sports, instead of depending on just one or two. We are on the right track.”

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