As of Friday (20 May), Malaysia has achieved 36 gold medals at the SEA Games with two days left in the tournament and is ranked 6th on the scoreboard.
However, Malaysia has little to celebrate as the last time the country was in 6th place was in 1983, which is also the worst ranking Malaysia has had in 40 years, ranking behind Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore.
This also sounded an alarm to our Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Faizal Azumu, who later passed the ball to the athletes for the country’s performance, urging them to buck up if it wants to climb up the rankings.
“All Malaysians are disappointed because we are not at a higher position,” Ahmad was quoted as saying by Bernama.
“We should not be contented with our sixth position at the Games,” he added.
However, his comments were in sharp contrast with that of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri, who congratulated the national athletes for bringing home 36 gold medals.
In a Facebook post, he wrote, “Congratulations! We have managed to achieve the target of 36 gold medals through the national karate squad at the Vietnam SEA Games!”
“For those who did not manage to bring home medals, it’s okay. We as Keluarga Malaysia always support you. To the athletes who are still fighting, let’s increase our medal tally!”
Malaysia is usually in the regional top 5 and the last time it ranked 6th was in 1983, when only 8 nations took part, compared to the current 11.
In Budget 2022, the Malaysian government slashed sports spending from RM940 million to a mere RM289 million. The ministry has also cut down its full-time number of athletes from 432 to 288, months after a poor Tokyo Olympics showing only one silver and one bronze.
Meanwhile, Malaysia is set to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England in July-August and the Asian Games later this year in China which have been postponed indefinitely.
“The exposure gained at the SEA Games is crucial for us to achieve more success in other multi-sport Games like the Commonwealth Games and Asian,” Ahmad said.