Malaysia's Asiad gold target mystery

KUALA LUMPUR: Will Malaysia set a specific gold medal target for the Hangzhou Asian Games later this month?

According to sources, there won't be a specific gold target this time.

Instead, the Malaysian contingent will establish an overall medal target of any colour to sidestep potential criticism.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia confirmed that Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh will announce the official medal target on Monday.

Given the anticipated challenges in winning gold medals in Hangzhou, Yeoh is expected to adopt a cautious approach.

While Malaysia have strong prospects in sports like squash, sailing, and cycling, there's room for surprises in events like men's hockey, wushu, and karate.

Drawing on the precedent set in 2015 when then-Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced an overall medal target for the Singapore Sea Games without specifying the number of gold, silver, and bronze medals, Malaysia ended up with a decent haul of 62 gold, 58 silver, and 66 bronze medals.

OCM secretary-general Datuk Nazifuddin Najib hinted at a preference for an overall medal target, but the final decision rests with Yeoh.

Nazifuddin emphasised that this decision wouldn't be related to Malaysia's inability to meet their gold medal target at the Phnom Penh Sea Games in May, where they aimed for 40 gold but secured only 34.

"We discussed whether to set a gold medal or an overall target for the Asian Games," said Nazifuddin after OCM's executive council meeting at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara.

"We have submitted both proposals to the minister to decide which is more suitable for the announcement on Monday. What's important is the athletes' overall performance to justify the contingent size."

He added: "We don't want gold medals to be the primary focus for the contingent. Instead, we want to see these athletes perform well.

"The Asian Games are not a developmental event. We want to see our athletes achieve strong rankings in their respective events."

In the 2018 Jakarta edition, Malaysia, with 417 athletes, secured seven gold, 13 silver, and 16 bronze.

The gold came from bowling, squash, track cycling, sailing, and sepak takraw.

However, this time, Malaysia have opted for quality over quantity, naming only 289 athletes who will compete in 22 out of the 40 sports in Hangzhou.

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