Malaysia at the concluded Asian Games 2018.


Asian Games 2018 had just ended few days ago. The biggest international multi-sport event after the Olympics saw China topping the medal ranking as expected. This sports powerhouse won 132 golds, 92 silvers and 65 bronzes to sit comfortably at first place finish. Japan came in second with 75 golds, 56 silvers and 74 bronzes while South Korea is in third place with 49 golds, 58 silvers and 70 bronzes. The host country, Indonesia definitely has its best performance due to home advantage and claimed the fourth spot with 31 golds, 24 silvers and 43 bronzes. Some images of its closing ceremony on 2nd September 2018 (last Sunday) below:

Malaysia is placed at 14th with 7 golds, 13 silvers and 16 bronzes. Looking at all our past participation in this games, this is actually one of our best performances. One week before the games closes, I have a feeling that we may not be able to reach our 7-gold medal target. Fortunately, we managed to hit that mark with our squash team delivering our final gold medal. Our squash team delivered while on the other hand, we are getting weaker in other sports we are previously strong in such as badminton. We failed to win a single medal (not even a bronze) in badminton. None of our players manage to get into semi-final and only two men doubles pair got into quarter final. This is worrying.

On the other hand, I am surprised that Malaysia defeated India in men hockey semi final match. India is the defending champion and they are superbly good in hockey. I am quite excited that Malaysia succeeded into the final and if we win the gold here, we would be guaranteed an Olympic ticket to compete in hockey event at Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games. We were up against Japan in the final. We were leading from the very beginning of the match but in the last 20 second of the match, Japan managed to level it up to 6-6. I watched the last crucial segment of the match live. Then in the critical penalty shoot, we lost unfortunately and had to settle for silver. A great opportunity to shine here but we missed it. As for other sports, I didn’t give much attention.

After successfully hosting this games, Indonesia is now seeking to bid for 2032 Summer Olympic Games. Huge dream over there. 2020 edition will be in Tokyo, 2024 will be in Paris while 2028 will be in Los Angeles. The formal bidding and selection process for 2032 edition will be held somewhere in 2025 (usually 7 years before the games). We are still in 2018 now but Indonesia is already eyeing to host 2032 Olympics. Great ambition. Why not Malaysia has such ambition too? We should at least put our hope in being determined to host Asian Games first and foremost. We have not hosted it before (Indonesia hosted it twice while our neighbour Thailand have hosted it 4 times already.

2022 Asian Games will be in Hangzhou, China while 2026 edition will be in Nagoya, Japan. So, we should eye for the 2030 spot. We should be financially stable and ready by that time (now we are in poor financial situation thanks to all the debt accumulated by our previous government). As for the 2032 Olympic bid, we can try to work and submit a co-host bid with Singapore as our country alone may not be good enough to host event of this magnitude.

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

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Spotlight on Indonesia as Asian Games 2018 began.


Yesterday is a very auspicious day as its date is 18.08.18. It is also picked as the day for the opening ceremony of the 18th Asian Games; Jakarta Palembang 2018. For the first time in the history of the games, the games are being co-hosted in two cities. In the original bidding for this edition of the games, Hanoi is declared the winning host city after defeating Surabaya, Indonesia. However, not long after, Hanoi dropped out of the hosting duty due to financial constraint. Indonesia is then selected to host the games and two cities have been brought forward to the task; Jakarta (its capital) and Palembang.

This is the second time Indonesia is hosting the games. The country previously hosted the 4th Asian Games back in 1962 at Jakarta. How many times have Malaysia hosted Asian Games? None. It is quite an embarrassing fact that my country have not hosted it before. We have the sports infrastructure, we have all the other supporting facilities, we have the manpower, and we have the capability to do so and yet we have not done it before. Our glory in hosting mega sporting event stopped at 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. That was already 20 years ago.

Malaysia should look seriously into bidding for another large-scale international sporting event and should start with this Asian Games. I don’t think we will need to spend a lot since we already have most of the infrastructure in place. The KL Sports City (Bukit Jalil complex) is capable of handling most of the games. Our neighbouring country, Thailand had hosted it four times and we are still at zero. We should really set sight on hosting Asian Games. Hangzhou (China) has been selected to host the 2022 edition will Nagoya (Japan) is also chosen to host the 2026 edition. Malaysia should come forward with huge effort to bid for the 2030 edition. And then, let’s carry on the tide by bidding for 2032 Summer Olympic Games (need to work together with Singapore for a single bid on this one).

Anyway, best of luck to all the participating 449 Malaysian athletes in 2018 Asian Games. We are among the ten largest contingent in this games and we should be having no problem to get into top 10 position in the overall medal tally too. We have to do much better than our previous participation in the Incheon 2014 edition that only won 5 gold medals, 14 silver medals and 14 bronze medals for a 14th place finish.

Jakarta Palembang 2018 opened yesterday with an opening ceremony that saw a unique entrance moment by Indonesian President, Joko Widodo on a cool motorbike ride. Next, the synchronization of the performers is something to be praised and I always love this kind of performances where a huge number of performers are involved to make the synchronization works beautifully. By the way, I only watched the highlight of the ceremony (not able to watch the whole thing as I couldn’t find any platform to watch the whole ceremony online). A huge stage setup of a volcanic mountain, waterfall and vegetation became the centrepiece of the show as the volcano forms the cauldron for the symbolic torch lighting segment. There were also some singing and performances showcasing Indonesian culture. The ceremony ended with typical fireworks display.

The games will run until 2nd September 2018 (day of its closing ceremony).

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

Gold Coast 2018 ended with Malaysia still couldn’t break into top 10 in final medal tally.


The 21st Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast 2018 concluded today after 11 days of competition involving athletes from 71 participating countries and territories. I watched the highlight of the closing ceremony and it was a very underwhelming way to brought the successful games to an end. Although as expected, there is no particularly striking moment in the closing ceremony due to the relevant budget cut to hosting sporting events recently (hence inevitable decrease in scale and quality of ceremonies…and there is even no allocation for grand performance), but the show felt like the organizer wanted to just end it once and for all. It’s like a show made for no one to care for with lack of star power, poor fireworks, etc. By the way, the next edition of the games will be held on Birmingham, England in 2022 (4 years from now).

In Gold Coast 2018, the host nation, Australia topped the final medal tally as expected (due to it being a strong powerhouse in sports and also having home advantage) with 80 gold medals, 59 silver medals and 59 bronze medals (total of 198 medals). It is a huge win to Australia as England which came in second place only has 45 gold medals, 45 silver medals and 46 bronze medals (total of 136 medals). India is in third place finish with 26 gold medals, 20 silver medals and 20 bronze medals (total of 66 medals). Canada is in fourth place while New Zealand is in fifth.

Where is Malaysia? Malaysia is at 12th place with 7 gold medals, 5 silver medals and 12 bronze medals (total of 24 medals). This is a fairly good result for Malaysia as the country usually delivered around this figure in every Commonwealth Games. We have also achieved our target set earlier aiming for 6 gold medals. Well, I think the country set a pretty low target. We should at least aim for 10 gold medals. The country also failed to break into top 10 countries in the final medal tally. What’s the point of winning 145 gold medals in the 2017 SEA Games in KL but not doing well in larger-scale sporting event like the Olympics, Asian Games, or even this Commonwealth Games? Anyway, I do believe our athletes have already tried their best and I wish congratulation to the Malaysian medalists. The point is that our sporting performance still has a long way to go.

Malaysia started off really well in this games by clinching two gold medals in the first two days of the games from weightlifting events. However, we suffered a drought in multiple days after that as the country under-performed in other events like cycling, swimming, diving, squash and also badminton of which I would like to discuss here. It’s still a good news that we managed to win 2 gold medals in badminton but I’m actually expecting 5. Lee Chong Wei rise to the occasion in men single after losing to the same Indian player in the mixed team event while Vivian Hoo and Chow Mei Kuan shown to us that they are unbeatable this time in women doubles.

Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying only managed to secure a bronze in mixed double to my disappointment. Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong also only managed to get a bronze in men doubles to my disbelief. We also lost to India in the final of team event surprisingly. I have to admit that India do improve a lot in this particular sport but I’m still strong to my opinion that we are a level above them. This result shows that we have been declining in badminton. If we managed to get additional 3 gold medals, we can actually reach the 10-gold milestone. Last time, we are the only country that can give a good fight to Indonesia and China in badminton. Then, South Korea overpowered us. Next, Japan also went over us. Soon, India, England or even Thailand will deliver better than us in this sport too. We are on the downhill especially when now, we still couldn’t able to find talent to take over Lee Chong Wei and other aging athletes in badminton.

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

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games began and it marked the fifth time Australia is hosting the games.


I realized that there is going to be a lot of international sporting events this year. We have seen the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at South Korea two months ago. Now, we came into the period of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Later on, we would observe FIFA World Cup in June and July at Russia, Asian Games at Palembang (Indonesia) in August and September and also the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires at Argentina in October. So many sports to look out for in this year alone.

The 21st Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast 2018 began yesterday in a glitzy opening ceremony held in Carrara Stadium. The games will be held from 4th to 15th April 2018 in Gold Coast, a city famous for beautiful beaches in Queensland, Australia. This is the fifth time that Australia is hosting the games. The last time Australia hosted the Commonwealth Games is on 2006 in Melbourne (12 years ago). I have to admit that the Melbourne 2006 games was much more grander (more spectacular ceremonies) but Gold Coast 2018 also didn’t disappoint with an opening ceremony that shines a light on the aboriginal people of Australia and also presenting the diverse culture and beautiful nature of the country.

The games is officially opened by Prince Charles on behalf of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. He is joined by his wife, Camillia and Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia. There will be 275 events in 19 sports available in this games which saw 71 participating teams representing the various countries and territories which were once under the reign of British empire. My country, Malaysia has a pretty good record in this games and its capital, Kuala Lumpur has also hosted the games once in 1998. It would be nice if Kuala Lumpur has the chance of hosting it again in near future. In the first day of the games (today), Malaysia has already won one gold medal.

I only watched the highlights of the opening ceremony and I realized that there is no cauldron lighting (a tradition observed in other events like the Olympics) but rather a segment where the Queen’s Baton Relay ends with a message from the Queen read by Prince Charles in the ceremony to officiate the games. Typical with the other recent ceremonies, Gold Coast 2018 emphasizes on vibrant and colourful light projection in its opening ceremony. There is no specific ‘shockingly majestic’ moment in the ceremony but it is still a success considering the recent games’ objective (including other games like the Olympics, Asian Games, etc) to minimize the budget and scale of events to prevent the host from running into deficit and ‘white elephant’ issues to the venues.

Now, I wish all the best to the athletes (especially the Malaysian athletes that I’m supporting). In the previous edition (Glasgow 2014), Malaysia won 6 golds, 7 silvers and 6 bronzes for a 12th place finish in the overall medal tally. I think Malaysia will perform slightly better in this edition and let’s hope that it will break into the top 10 spot this time.

(Images in this post are from The Guardian. More images here: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/gallery/2018/apr/04/commonwealth-games-2018-opening-ceremony-in-pictures)

Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games ended with Norway leading the medal tally.


The 23rd Winter Olympic Games, Pyeongchang 2018 concluded yesterday with a spectacular closing ceremony. This winter games did not receive much media exposure and hence I find it difficult to find any website to watch the ceremony last evening. In the end, I only managed to watch highlights of the closing ceremony from one or two news.

Norway led the medal tally with 14 gold, 14 silver and 11 bronze for a total of 39 medals. Norway, which came in second place at Sochi 2014 emerged as the overall champion in this latest edition of the games. Germany came in second with 14 gold, 10 silver and 7 bronze while Canada made it to third place finish with 11 gold, 8 silver and 10 bronze. The host nation, South Korea had 7th place finish with 5 gold, 8 silver and 4 bronze. This winter games are usually dominated by European and Western countries as winter sports are more common and popular over there than in Asia. With a bit of home advantage, South Korea emerged as the top Asian nation in this games.

This is the first Winter Games for Malaysia. I am not expecting any medal finish since my country is very new to this. There are only two athletes representing Malaysia and I can see they have placed their effort in it although they lost in the end. Malaysia do not have winter season and so it’s much harder for us to take part in winter sport. Anyway, I’m still looking forward to more participation by the Malaysians in winter sports in near future.

I have noticed one sport that looks weird to me. I have never seen it before. After a bit of research, the sport I mentioned is called ‘curling’. Curling is a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric circles. The curler can induce a curved path by causing the stone to slowly turn as it slides, and the path of the rock may be further influenced by two sweepers with brooms who accompany it as it slides down the sheet, using the brooms to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone. The action of the brooms is the one that made me laugh a little. It’s really the strangest Olympic sport I have ever seen and this is the first time I’m seeing it from Pyeongchang 2018 although this sport has been contested in the previous games before.

So now, this Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games has ended. The next edition will be in Beijing for 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Beijing, China will be the first city in history to have hosted both Summer Olympic Games (in 2008) and Winter Olympic Games (in 2022, 4 years from now).

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

Pyeongchang 2018 kicks off with eye-catching opening ceremony.


Pyeongchang 2018, the XXIII Olympic Winter Games is held from 9 to 25 February 2018 (some events being held on 8th and 9th prior to the opening ceremony). This international sporting event brought Pyeongchang, a once quiet town 180km from the capital Seoul, South Korea into spotlight. The games feature 102 events in fifteen sports disciplines. 2,952 athletes from 92 National Olympic Committees are slated to compete, including the debut of Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore.

Wow…I can’t wait to see how Malaysia will perform in this Winter Olympic Games. I don’t think Malaysia will win any medal since this is only the first time Malaysia is participating in Winter Olympics. We have only two athletes competing (Jeffrey Webb will compete in alpine skiing while Julian Yee will compete in figure skating). Although we have lack of experience (hard to get involved in any winter sports in Malaysia where no winter is observed), but I’m still wishing all the best to these two Malaysian athletes in Pyeongchang 2018.

Pyeongchang defeated Munich (Germany) and Annecy (France) back in 2011 to bid for the hosting job of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Previously, Pyeongchang had bid to host the 2010 and 2014 editions but lost out respectively to Vancouver and Sochi (Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics while Sochi hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics). Success is finally observed in the third time bidding. Third time a charm for Pyeongchang.

The opening ceremony was held yesterday’s evening at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, a stadium with 35 000 seating capacity purposely built for the games and will be demolished after the games ended. The Games were officially opened by President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in and the ceremony was also attended by Kim Yo-jong (representative of North Korea and sister of Kim Jong Un), Mike Pence (Vice President of USA), Shinzo Abe (Japanese Prime Minister), Antonio Guterres (United Nations Secretary General), Thomas Bach (President of International Olympic Committee), etc.

I didn’t watch the full ceremony but I do looked at the highlights of it from many news sources. Some of the major highlights of the ceremony include the marching of North and South Korea together in the athletes’ parade under a unified Korean flag, two men impersonating as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in the stadium and being kicked out, the world’s largest drone show in history during a performance segment of the ceremony, etc.

(Images in this post are from Vox at https://www.vox.com/2018/2/9/16995150/2018-winter-olympics-opening-ceremony-photos) 

29th SEA Games, Kuala Lumpur 2017 closes on the Merdeka Eve


After about two weeks of competitions, the 29th South East Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur 2017 has finally came to an end. The closing ceremony was held yesterday in the same venue, Bukit Jalil National Stadium on 30th August 2017. That’s also the Merdeka Eve (a day before Malaysia’s 60th anniversary of independence).

The ceremony fell short of excitement as there isn’t any performance by the next host country, Philippines. The host country of the next games has to deliver a performance in the usual tradition of the closing ceremony. However, Philippines had only decided to host it not long ago, they had no preparation to deliver a performance in that short notice, and that they wished to save the budget for the games’ hosting two years later. Hence, a no show from them. It was just a simple and formal handover ceremony from Malaysia to Philippines. This games also see among the worst performance by Philippines as they only won 24 gold medals, well below the 50-gold medal target they set earlier. Well, I’m sure they are going to do much better in the next edition as it is going to be hosted by them. Home advantage.

Same goes to Malaysia this time. Home advantage. And adding that with some obvious biased decisions by the judges in several sports in this games. The end result is an extraordinary victory for Malaysia in this games. We collected 145 gold medals, 92 silver medals, and 86 bronze medals, for a total of 323 medals. That’s more than enough to top the medal tally (Thailand came in second with 72 golds, we get more than double of that). Our last biggest achievement in this games was way back in 2001 (also held in Kuala Lumpur) when we won 111 gold medals. We set 111-golds as our target this time too and we accomplished far beyond that. Despite all the biased judgements and organizing sports that Malaysia is good at (typical for any host countries), I have to still admit that Malaysia really did a good job here. Well, it’s quite easy to win medals here. We have to move on after a word of congratulations! We have to raise our bar high by aiming to win more medals in bigger games like Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.

Back to the closing ceremony. The ceremony was very boring. There is no cultural performance by the next host country (Philippines) as stated earlier, and there is only a very short performance by Malaysia to end the games. Other than that, it was all the formal stuff (handover, extinguishing of flame, national anthem, parade of athletes, etc). After that, the ceremony is dedicated as a Merdeka countdown celebration with over an hour of boring singing. The song choices are very poor (all Malay songs with no universal appeal) that did not highlight the diversity of the nation. How do you expect people from other countries to enjoy this? Even I as a Malaysian do not like this too. I thought there would be a grand countdown to Merdeka but that is not happening. Instead, we got a speech from the Prime Minister which is a happy news for all Malaysians too because he announced next Monday as an additional public holiday to mark the success of the country in this SEA Games. I think that’s the only one good thing that comes out from his mouth. Well, that holiday didn’t mean anything to me as I’m now here in Australia for my study. Sad…

 

  

All my people back in my country is enjoying this long 5-day of holiday combining Independence Day, Hari Raya Haji, the weekend, and this one extra special public holiday. I’m jealous of that. After the Prime Minister’s speech that ended past 12am, there is no official countdown to this historic day to my major disappointment. Even the fireworks that end the ceremony are not much. Everything in the opening ceremony is much better. This closing ceremony is like ‘well, we shall end the games by just showing how proud we are to be the overall champion of the games…that’s it’. No effort, no creativity, and no ‘wow’. This also belittles the participants from other countries and foreign audiences.

There would be this 9th ASEAN Para Games (sports for the disabled) to be held next month. After that, we say goodbye to KL (still a good host despite all the negative issues like wrong flags, biased judges, bad bus drivers, bad supporters’ attitudes, etc). Next SEA Games, Manila 2019!

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