Podium Programme director Tim Newenham defends the target set for the national contingent of a top 10 finish at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. File pic by HASRIYASYAH SABUDIN.

KUALA LUMPUR: Podium Programme director, Tim Newenham, has come forward to defend the target set for the national contingent of a top 10 finish at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast next month by saying that it is still quite a challenge to achieve.

"It is not like the Sea Games where it involves only 11 countries, it is a challenging target because the Commonwealth Games will have about 70 countries taking part, and in fact such a target was set from early on when the Podium Programme was first initiated.

"I myself am not sure how many gold medals we will have to win to be in the top 10. We do not know how the athletes from other countries will perform, but our objective is to ensure that Malaysian athletes are fully prepared for the Games,” he explained.

When asked which sport is expected to deliver gold for the country, he responded that such expectations would only serve to add unnecessary pressure and weight of expectations on the athletes if such information is revealed.

"The athletes are used to the pressure and demands of competing and in my opinion there is no need to heap added pressure and expectations on them. However, all of you should realise and know which sport is able to contribute medals for the country, such as badminton and diving,” he replied.

At the upcoming Games, it will be the first time able bodied athletes and para athletes will be competing simultaneously and a combined medals tally for countries.

"The top 10 target was set before the decision to combine the medals won by able bodied and para athletes was announced. So we did not take into account medals to be won by para athletes which will now have a bearing on the target for the Games.

"And it has to be stated that hosts Australia have listed events that are an advantage to them. I am not surprised because Australia will make full use of such an advantage which will have an impact on us. As an example, events involving two of our world champions, Abdul Latif Romly and Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli are not being contested,” he pointed out.

Earlier, national contingent Chef de Mission, Huang Ying How said that Malaysia’s medal target at the world’s second largest Games will most likely remain a secret to avoid putting added pressure and expectations on the athletes.

Instead, Ying How said that the national contingent are targeting a top 10 finish which drew criticism, because some quarters felt that it was an excuse to take attention away from the confidential medal target, furthermore when the Podium Programme which is under the National Sports Institute (NSI) has incurred millions of Ringgit in costs with athletes training fulltime for years.

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