ASEAN TARGET FOR ATHLETES
MSSM meets to identify talent for regional Games
DEVINDER SINGH email@example.com
THERE will be a lot riding on this year’s Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) meets as the country prepares to host the Asean Schools Games next year.
Scouts will begin to identify and track potential medal winners when the first phase of the national schools competitions begin this weekend.
Twelve sports will hold their annual championships from Sunday in various states followed by another 10 during the second phase on Aug 6-11.
Cross-country running got the calendar underway last Saturday in Shah Alam with Selangor emerging overall champions for a 10th consecutive year.
Athletics again takes its pride of place as a stand alone event when it is held on Apr 24-28 in Penang.
The education ministr y ’s sports division deputy director Zainal Abas said the first phase of the schools meets will also be used to select the country’s contingent for this July’s Asean Schools Games in Singapore.
“We have already s t a r t e d a p r ogramme to track and tag athletes who would still be eligible to compete at the Asean Schools Games in Singapore this year and Malaysia next year,” Zainal told Timesport yesterday.
“We will be following the status and results of these athletes and prepare them early for next year.”
Malaysia finished top of the medal tally when the Asean Schools Games was last held in Kuala Lumpur in 2010 and again in 2014 in the Philippines.
However, the country only sent a token representation to last year’s edition in Thailand due to a clash of dates with the Malaysia Games in Sarawak.
Malaysia returned with just six gold medals to finish fifth overall, the first time the country placed outside the top three in the medal tally.
“With the Malaysia Games due to be held again next year, we will have to discuss when to hold the Asean Schools Games and avoid another clash of dates,” said Zainal.
“The positive thing is that when we had to send Form Three and Form Four athletes to the Games last year, they will all still be eligible this year and next.”
A total of 10 sports — athletics, badminton, basketball, bowling, gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), handball, sepak takraw, swimming, table tennis and volleyball — will be held in Singapore on July 1321.
We have already started a programme to track and tag athletes who would still be eligible to compete at the Asean Schools Games in
Singapore this year and Malaysia next year.
Education ministry sports division deputy director
Negri Sembilan’s Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi (left) and Sarawak’s Grace Wong Xiu Mei won the MSSM Sportsman and Sportswoman awards last year.