THE VERDICT: It's time to redouble our efforts
FIRST, the positives of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Lee Chong Wei's silver-medal winning effort was world class, even if a certain politician -- who has since apologised -- chose to politicise the heartbreaking defeat.
It was a triumph in defeat for Chong Wei, and Malaysia for that matter, for the nation followed every moment of the contest as one.
Then came Pandelela Rinong's come-from-behind bronze medal in the 10m platform. Though not as high profile an athlete as Chong Wei is to Malaysians, the nation has come to expect great things from the 19-year-old and after failing to win a medal in the synchro with Leong Mun Yee -- where they were reckoned to have a better chance -- the Sarawakian came good in the individual event to ensure badminton now had company as a sport which had delivered medals at the Olympics.
Both achievements had fans rejoicing, irrespective of which side of the political divide they were on and, despite the critics saying otherwise, the money spent on the London 2012 programme -- RM16 million, not RM20 million -- was worth every sen for the nation cheered, despaired and celebrated as one.
Raw emotion was the order of the day and social networks were abuzz with a feeling of pride as Malaysians united as one.
Cyclist Azizulhasni Awang was, despite not winning a medal, another Malaysian success story as he lined up against six-footers in the keirin final, Yeoh Ken Nee created history by becoming the first Malaysian diver to qualify for an individual Olympics final while Heidi Gan swam faster than she ever had to finish 16th in the gruelling open water swimming.
Now, the negatives.
Gold eluded Malaysia again and this is depressing for London 2012 was the nation's best chance of ending that wait.
Pandelela may have brought cheer but as long as China show no signs of slowing down, it will continue to dominate diving while the rest of the world will be left fighting for silver and bronze which means badminton remains the best bet.
Unfortunately, Chong Wei will be past his prime even if he decides to soldier on for one last shot in 2016 and that leaves Malaysia in a very precarious position.
There is no replacement for Chong Wei, although youngster Zulfadli Zulkifli has shown some early promise but is bogged down by personal issues, while the men's doubles are showing no signs of being able to challenge the best from China, South Korea, Indonesia and Denmark.
To make matters worse, the BA of Malaysia continues to struggle to produce top quality women's singles, doubles and mixed doubles players.
And then there is Azizul's small physique, which means not being as strong as the world's best. His determination to succeed is unquestionable but Malaysia has to be prepared to accept the fact that Azizul may never win the Olympic medal he so desperately craves.
Next, the lessons learnt.
Money will always be an issue but Malaysia has to spend if it is to achieve the sporting highs it wants.
However, there is only so much that the government can do and chef-de-mission Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid had the perfect answer -- corporate sector involvement.
Malaysia has enough successful companies who can play vital roles in sports and the 'Rakan Sukan' (partner in sport) programme should be re-introduced.
Corporate partners, however, should only be found for sports which have a chance at winning at the Olympics and sadly, the hugely popular football and hockey are not among them as London 2012 showed.
South Korea beat Japan for the football bronze while none of the Asian nations -- who Malaysia struggle to beat -- advanced to the hockey semi-finals and this shows just how long and narrow the road is for these two sports.
Team sports also require huge funding for a shot at just one gold medal and won't it be better to invest in diving, which has eight titles at stake and, even then, won't need a huge squad.
Finally, the verdict.
London 2012 can be deemed a success for not only emulating the Atlanta '96 haul of one silver and one bronze but bettering it by bringing another sport into the fold.
However, this has only whetted the appetite of Malaysians and come 2016, this achievement has to bettered for there can never be a return of the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 episodes where no medals were won.
Work must start immediately.