NO PRESSURE ON ATHLETES
Khairy says 111-gold medal target is a balanced figure
IT is going to take a similar effort as in 2001 for Malaysia to emerge overall champions of the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games which begins next week. Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said 111 gold medals, the same number the national contingent won in 2001 to top the medal tally for the first time, is the target this time.
“We chose a target of 111 gold medals after looking at all scenarios,” said Khairy after the flag-handing over by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to chef-de-mission Datuk Marina Chin in Putrajaya yesterday.
“We are optimistic in some sports and some where we are conservative. We find this is a balanced figure.
“There is analysis which say it could be more or it could be less but we feel that this is a number we are comfortable with to be overall champions and incidentally it is the same as in 2001.”
Khairy said coming out with an official target was not intended to put pressure on the national athletes to deliver results but to satisfy the public.
“I don’t say to the athletes that you are marked for a gold medal,” said Khairy, who will also compete in the Sea Games in polo.
“Those who can win a gold medal know they can win a gold medal. This is more to satisfy the public, who wanted a target so we give them a target.
“As far we are concerned, inside the camp we are not obsessing over the target. If they do their best, then the gold medals will flow.”
Aside from the Sea Games, Khairy also announced that for Malaysia to become overall winners of the Asean Para Games next month, 103 gold medals would be needed.
Marina said she is comfortable with the target set and believes it is within reach of the national contingent’s ability.
“Looking at the preparation of athletes, it is a fair target,” said Marina. “Like I said many times, a target does not bring on additional pressure.
“But I don’t want it to be a burden on the athletes which is why the management does not highlight which athletes are able to win gold. The athletes know themselves.
“If the time and conditions are right, anybody is capable of winning gold. But gold is not necessarily a target for every athlete.”
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese football team became the first foreign athletes to officially arrive yesterday for the Sea Games, though some others are already here to get used to conditions in the country.
“A few football teams arrived today, with Vietnam the first, and so far so good. Their arrival went smoothly and of course, the influx of athletes will increase over the coming days,” said Khairy.