Incheon 2014 ended. A good games but not for Malaysia.


The 17th Asian Games, Incheon 2014 finally came to an end after over two weeks of superb performances from athletes across Asia in 36 sports. China dominated the medal tally standing as expected, with 151 gold, 108 silver and 83 bronze, staying ahead comfortably with huge margin. Coming in the second place is the host nation, South Korea with 79 gold, 71 silver and 84 bronze. Japan took third place with 47 gold, 76 silver and 77 bronze. These three nations remain as the three strongest in sports in Asia.

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What about my country, Malaysia? We set 8-gold medal target, and we had only obtained 5. Besides that, we took 14 silver and 14 bronze, and together with the 5 gold mentioned just now, Malaysia is placed far behind at 14th. Our athletes performed below target or expectation, but we knew that they tried their best. This is just not the year for Malaysia. We had also performed poorly in this year’s Commonwealth Games at Glasgow. In the previous Asiad, Guangzhou 2010, Malaysia won 9 gold, the best in our record. This time, we even lowered the bar and yet we still failed to achieve it. Somebody needs to seriously review our athletes’ form to prepare for future games.

Incheon 2014 concluded with its closing ceremony yesterday held at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium, the same venue for its opening ceremony. It was attended by Prime Minister of South Korea, President of Olympic Council of Asia, dignitaries, and over 60 000 audiences in the stadium. The near 3-hour ceremony began with a group of children singing two Korean songs. Then, it was followed by Korean cultural performances particularly highlighting on traditional dances and costumes. The performances are quite artistic, but it would be better if it involves more performers for a much grander feel. There were many time when there was just too little people on the stage performing, and that wouldn’t contribute to impressive show in any means. On the other hand, I enjoyed the taekwando segment. Impressive eventhough I can see some performers failed to perform in several challenging stunts.

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In between these performances, there were a number of video projections depicting some great moments during the games. Great flashback. Then, it’s time for usual procedures; arrival of athletes and flags of all 45 participating Asian nations, speeches, lowering of the flag of Olympic Council of Asia, extinguishing of flame, etc. A simple handover ceremony was then conducted to pass the job of hosting to the next host of the games, Jakarta, Indonesia. The city will host 18th Asian Games in 2018 after Hanoi, Vietnam pulled out earlier due to financial constraints. A segment showcasing Indonesian colourful cultures and dances was then delivered. On the other hand, the Samsung MVP Award, honoured to the most successful Asiad athlete is awarded to Japanese swimmer, Kosuke Hagino. I’m glad that our Malaysian squash queen, Nicol David at least made it into the shortlist of eight for the award. First time a Malaysian is shortlisted though.

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Before the closing ceremony ended with fireworks display, there is still time for K-pop of course. It is the most symbolic thing that connects South Korea to other parts of the world. CN Blue, Sistar and Big Bang performed to huge cheer from the strong 60 000 crowd. Generally, Incheon 2014 has done a great job in hosting the games despite facing several criticism like unfairness in result’s judgement in several events that were biased in favour of host nation (expected, and it always happen) and also criticism on the lack of effort put into its opening and closing ceremonies. For the latter point, I understood since the organizing committee had only spent little amount on it. For me, its opening and closing ceremonies aren’t that bad. Just that they aren’t memorable or magnificent and would not leave any lasting impression to the world. Next Asiad; Jakarta 2018.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

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