HANGZHOU: As the curtain comes down on the 2022 Asian Games tonight, the head of Malaysia’s contingent has called for greater funding to drive the country’s progress in sports.
Malaysia’s chef de mission, Chong Kim Fatt, said the financial factor plays a big role in the progress of sports as seen in the achievements of the great Asian sporting powers including overall champions China, Japan, South Korea and India.
Chong who is a vice-president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, said the matter had been raised with youth and sports minister Hannah Yeoh ahead of the 2024 federal budget which will be tabled in Parliament on Friday.
“Indeed, we need more grants to promote sports in Malaysia,” he said at a press conference to review Malaysia’s performance at the Hangzhou games.
The national contingent surpassed the target of 27 medals by collecting 32 medals, comprising six gold, eight silver and 18 bronze.
Chong said Malaysia could have added more medals, including gold, if national track cycling champion Azizulhasni Awang was also with the contingent.
Azizulhasni who won gold in the 2018 games in Indonesia had to withdraw following an injury suffered during a training session at the National Velodrome in Nilai.
Jefri Ngadirin, the athletics division director of the National Sports Council, said Malaysia had lost 12 medals even before the start of the Hangzhou games as the tenpin bowling and pencak silat events were also not contested.
“But our contingent has proven that without bowling, pencak silat and Azizulhasni, they still managed to bring home a total of 32 medals including six gold, one gold less than the 2018 edition,” he said.
Malaysia finished 14th overall and third best among Southeast Asian countries behind Thailand who won 12 gold, 14 silver and 32 bronze followed by Indonesia with 7-11-18.
Defending champions China maintained their dominance as the Asian Games superpower with 201-111-71 followed by Japan (52-67-69) and South Korea third with 42-59-89.