PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will have its focus on its ABCD as the nation seeks its elusive Olympics gold at the Rio de Janeiro Games, which begin today.
Four sports – archery, badminton, cycling and diving – are the only ones in which Malaysia has a decent chance of success.
The best hope still lies in badminton – the golden goose of Malaysian sports.
For world No. 1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei, it’s his last chance to pick up his first Olympic gold. He is a two-time silver medallist – at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Chong Wei admitted that he would love to get his hands on the gold.
“Winning the Olympic gold is not only my dream, but the dream of all Malaysians,” said the 33-year-old, who will be Malaysia’s flag bearer in today’s opening ceremony.
There are only two shuttlers – Lin Dan and Chen Long of China – capable of stopping him.
It was Lin Dan who denied Chong Wei in both the Olympic finals in 2008 and 2012.
But the wheels are turning in Chong Wei’s favour, having beaten his nemesis in their last two meetings.
The Malaysian was victorious at the China Open in November last year, Chong Wei’s first win over Lin Dan in three years. He had last beaten the Chinese at the Korean Open in January 2012.
Chong Wei showed that the win was no fluke by beating Lin Dan again in three games at the Badminton Asia Championships in April. On both occasions, he won in Lin Dan’s own backyard in China.
As for Chen Long, Chong Wei has won their last four clashes to lead 13-12 in their head-to-head clashes.
In Rio, Chong Wei is scheduled to meet Lin Dan earlier than expected in the semi-finals.
“This time I want to take it one match at a time. I’ll deal with him (Lin Dan) when I meet him on the day,” said Chong Wei.
In cycling, Azizulhasni Awang will be hoping it will be third time lucky in the keirin. This is his third appearance at the Games.
The 28-year-old already has four medals – two silvers and two bronzes – from the World Championships, and now wants an Olympic medal, preferably the gold.
Under Australian coach John Beasley, Azizul has undergone the best possible preparation in Melbourne and then in Portugal.
There is also a glimmer of hope in archery if Khairul Anuar Mohamad, Haziq Kamaruddin and Muhd Akmal Nor Hasrin can get it right in the team recurve.
It all depends on the draw and a medal of any colour from them would be a success.
Pandelela Rinong is the best bet to strike gold in diving.
In London four years ago, Pandelela created history when she became the first Malaysian woman to win a medal, finishing third in the 10m platform individual.
She also finished third at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, last year.
Pandelela has a strong chance of picking up another medal in the 10m platform synchro with Cheong Jun Hoong. The duo took the silver in the World Cup in Rio in February to qualify for the Olympics.
Having undergone intensive training in China, Pandelela believes she can bag a medal and hopes it will be better than a bronze.
“The competition will be tough, but I believe I can perform in Rio,” said the 23-year-old Sarawakian.
As for athletics, sailing, shooting, swimming, golf and weightlifting, it would be considered an achievement if Malaysian representatives can just reach the finals or record personal bests. No target has been set for the 32 athletes. But anything less than a silver and a bronze – like in London 2012 – can be considered a failure for Malaysia.