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» Olympics 2012
M'sians still lack the temperament to win that elusive gold
Publication Date : 13-08-2012
Malaysia's quest for that first Olympic gold is proving to be as elusive as the hunt for Big Foot.
London 2012 also ended in failure so we will have to wait four more years, till Rio de Janeiro 2016, to achieve what is proving to be a Herculean task.
Malaysia won just one silver and a bronze to rank 63rd in the medals tally.
So how successful were these Olympics for Malaysia? Was the meagre two-medal haul a fair return on the 20 million ringgit (US$6.41 million) invested over a four-year period? Did the 30 athletes do justice to their selection?
These are the obvious questions that will be asked now that the Games are over.
London 2012 can be seen as a breakthrough as diving showed that Malaysia can win medals in other sports besides badminton.
Diving started to get attention from 1998 when KL hosted the Commonwealth Games.
Today, that focus has paid off. But more needs to be done to encourage others to take up the sport.
That was Pandelela Rinong’s message after winning the 10m individual platform bronze medal.
Diving is a success story with Pandelela and Yeoh Ken Nee being the first Malaysians to qualify for the individual finals. But there was also disappointment as the synchronised teams had been expected to be among the medal winners.
They failed to land even a top five placing.
Ken Nee, who has scored many firsts in the diving pool, is turning to coaching after 19 years as a competitor. Let us hope he will be able to groom a champion by the time Rio comes around.
In terms of performance, the athletes, except for a few, generally did well in London.
Athletics opted to send two veterans who were past their best and were rewarded with abject failure. Hurdler Noraseela Khalid and high jumper Lee Hup Wei were an embarrassment as they did not even come close to their personal bests. The Malaysian Athletic Union (MAU) really have to look at their selection policies, among other things.
The message from London is that we have the talent but our preparations are lacking in certain areas which make the difference between winning and losing.
Badminton cannot always depend on Lee Chong Wei for medals. He has provided sterling service to the country with two silver medals and was unfortunate not to win gold as he played some of his best badminton in the final against Lin Dan of China.
The concern is there is still no replacement in sight for Chong Wei.
The doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat- Tan Boon Heong showed promise in the early stages but fizzled out against three-time world champions Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng in the semi-finals.
They then lost tamely in the bronze medal playoff against South Korea’s Chung Jae-sung and Lee Yong-dae. Their fitness level is certainly suspect as they could not maintain their form at the crucial stages.
The other disappointment was the mixed doubles pair of Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, who lost all their group matches despite being touted as medal contenders.
They were Malaysia’s first mixed pair in the Olympics and were a bundle of nerves, clearly overawed by the occasion.
As chef de mission Tun Ahmad Sarji said, they need more exposure to be able to compete at this level.
It is the same dilemma for all the other sports. Cyclist Azizulhasni Awang did well to make the keirin final as expected. But he got himself boxed out and finished last.
Azizul knew it would be a mountain to climb once he started at the back. He tried hard to move up and ran out of gas in the process.
For an athlete his size, the Pocket Rocket did well. The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) and his coaches must now figure out how to give him that extra power to deal with the might of the European riders.
At 24, he still has a long way to go in his career and will no doubt be at Rio. His coach, John Beasley, is confident that Azizul will be a winner soon.
“He certainly has the temperament and drive to be a champion,” said Beasley. “And he isn’t afraid to work hard either. Give me a few more Azizuls and I will have a gold medal for you. It’s great coaching him.”
Fencing, archery and marathon swimmer Heidi Gan performed creditably although their efforts fell short.
Fencer Yu Peng Kean will go nowhere if he is not given the extra push and more competitions to get the experience needed to excel.
Archers Khairul Anuar, Cheng Chu Sian and Haziq Kamaruddin also have to develop the competitive edge.
Most of the athletes clearly lacked the experience to perform to the best of their ability. They certainly had the will, the hunger and the determination but not the temperament for a big stage like the Olympics.
One can only hope that they will be better equipped to deliver that gold in Rio.
How Malaysian athletes fared
Silver: Lee Chong Wei (badminton) – men’s singles.
Bronze: Pandelela Rinong (diving) – women’s 10m individual platform.
Lee Chong Wei (men’s singles): Lost in final.
Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Hoong (doubles): Lost in semi-finals and the bronze medal playoff.
Tee Jing Yi (women’s singles): Failed to clear group stage
Chan Peng Soong-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles): Failed to clear group stage (lost all matches)
Men’s team event: Cheng Chu Sian, Khairul Anuar, Haziq Kamaruddin – lost to Mexico in second round.
Individual: Haziq lost in first round, Chu Sian lost in first round, Khairul lost in quarter-final.
Women’s individual: Nurul Syafiqah Hashim lost in first round.
Men’s sprint: Azizulhasni Awang lost in semifinals (ranked 8th)
Keirin: Azizulhasni Awang lost in final (ranked 6th).
Women’s keirin: Fateha Mustapha lost in first round.
Yu Peng Kean lost in sabre second round.
Men’s high jump: Lee Hup Wei did 2.13m (personal best 2.27m.)
Women’s 400m hurdles: Noraseela Khalid did 1:00.16 (personal best 56.00).
Men’s 3m synchronised springboard: Bryan Nickson Lomas and Huang Qiang (final).
3m individual springboard: Yeoh Ken Nee 10th (final), Huang Qiang (preliminary round).
10m individual platform: Bryan Nickson Lomas (preliminary round).
Women’s 3m synchorised springboard: Pandela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong (8th).
10m synchronised platform: Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee (7th).
3m individual springboard: Chen Jun Hoong (preliminary round), Ng Yan Yee (preliminary round).
10m individual platform: Pandelela Rinong (bronze medal),Traisy Vivien Tukiet (preliminary round).
Men’s laser: Khairul Nizam Efendy (48th).
10m rifle: Nur Suryani Taibi (34th).
800m freestyle: Khoo Cai Lin (heats).
10km marathon: Heidi Gan (16th).