Big loss in SEA games signals end of Malaysian sports culture

4 min read
Malaysia

MalaysiaMalaysia – The MRT station blocks my view of the city’s velodrome, so I can’t determine how or if the race concludes.

Malaysian sports as a metaphor: Haphazard national creations obscure the reality.

Malaysia’s uninspired 2021 Hanoi SEA Games. Poor performance. The sports ministry’s spin on 39 golds is misleading.

The count needs benchmarks.

Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Singapore surpassed us. Myanmar (nine golds), Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, and Timor Leste are embarrassments.

Malaysia could’ve sent geriatrics and placed sixth. Ow! Friends joke that Malaysian sportsmen lost their bearings since the 2021 SEA Games was in 2022. Senior politicians say our folks are terminally confused.

SEA Games is a fool’s errand, many say; Malaysia should focus on the Asian Games and Olympics. Championships.

Perhaps. The Asean-only SEA Games measure each member’s sports culture.

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World-level events are pinnacles for athletes, but tiny countries might hide behind the limited triumphs of top athletes to cover up their lack of athletic lineage back home.

Badminton, diving, and cycling silvers don’t indicate brilliance in those or other sports.

The SEA Games encourage Asean countries to compete at volume and gauge our sports cultures.

It challenges our national sports’ weakest connections more than their strongest. Malaysia’s health barometer.

Vietnam didn’t win 205 gold medals (good luck with Vovinam, Xiangxi, and Kurash), but Thailand won 92. Malaysia did worse than Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore.

Vovinam was founded in 1938. The remainder of Asean learned Vovinam. Indonesia and Myanmar earned the other nine golds. Malaysia didn’t medal.

The Philippines and Indonesia likely set up Vovinam clubs, allowing competitors from tae kwon do, judo, and karate to participate.

This doesn’t mean Malaysia should try every SEA Games sport. Competition martial arts are similar. Vietnam won six golds in pencak silat.

Flexible Malaysia might adapt.

Not just niche sports.

Malaysia’s track and field competition has declined. The nation, once the sport’s champion, is a has-been. Malaysia won just eight golds at home in 2017. This time, it’s five golds and no track victories. 47 gold medals.

Like swimming. Two of 38. Malaysia has continually supported this sport. By the looks of the results, it’s a forgotten sport.

Some point to the reintroduction of the podium program, which was abandoned last year. This program is for exceptional athletes, a minority.

They have quality but few victories. Diving competitions are limited.

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