THE Malaysian contingent to the Sea Games failed miserably. And that is the sad fact. National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail yesterday acknowledged this failure, and apologised to Malaysians, albeit with some excuses.
Despite the setback, Shapawi said there will not be any changes at the top of the NSC.
“As director, I will continue serving until my services are no longer needed,” he said. “The NSC would like to apologise to all Malaysians on the poor outing by our athletes. We did not achieve the targeted 70 gold but there were many factors which led to this poor outing.
“First of all, these Games were a logistical nightmare as the three clusters in Manila, Subic and Clark were far apart, making it very difficult for athletes and officials to travel and compete.
“Secondly when a typhoon (Kammuri) came, many events and flights involving Malaysian athletes had to be postponed.
“The hardest hit were sailing and windsurfing (athletes) who had to ‘rest’ for three days before they could compete. And when they did, the wind refused to blow.”
Shapawi said Malaysia also failed to deliver in some sports due to ‘wrong info’ given by some national sports associations (NSAs).
“We also failed to achieve some targets because we were overconfident with the data provided by NSAs, some of which were for new sports and also by sports which did not even have a previous track record or association to begin with.
“We arrived at the Philippines overconfident... as the defending champions and were the second largest contingent behind the hosts (772 athletes for 52 sports).
“All the above factors combined and derailed our target. All said and done, the NSC would like to apologise again and take full responsibility for this failure.
“We do not want to fault the athletes and coaches alone and let them take the full brunt of public anger, as it was an overall effort to train and prepare the contingent,” said Shapawi
Yesterday’s press conference in New Clark City lasted more than an hour as Chef-de-mission Datuk Megat Zulkarnain Omardin and Olympic Council of Malaysia secretary Datuk Nazifuddin Najib read out facts that would figure and some that did not.
“Sports which delivered in the previous games and the run-up to the Philippines Sea Games like archery, sailing and tenpin bowling were over hyped to deliver but fared poorly.
“We also did not have data on new entries like obstacle course and set a two gold target for them based on what their officials told us. It was one reason why the target was much higher than the haul.”
Shapawi also hit out at unfair judging, saying: “We had to fight back to claim gold medals, some which were lost in protests that were never entertained.
“Rayzam (Shah Wan Sofian) in the 110m hurdles ended in a photo finish but our protest was not entertained. The technical officials did not follow the rules stipulated in the guidebook.
“Amazingly, some of the rules in the guidebook which was handed to us before the Games were changed during the team managers’ meeting. We had major problems in gymnastics because of this,” said Shapawi.
In the end, lack of wind, a typhoon, the long taxing distances between venues, confusing judging and poor performances by those who promised to deliver gold combined to make the Philippines Sea Games a major disaster for Malaysia.