ASEAN TAR­GET FOR ATH­LETES

MSSM meets to iden­tify tal­ent for re­gional Games

New Straits Times - - Sport -

DEVINDER SINGH devinder@nst.com.my

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.

ZAINAL ABAS

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.

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