SEPANG – Despite not bagging the elusive gold medal at the just concluded Rio Olympics, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has hailed the “quantum leap” in the national contingent’s performance at the world’s most prestigious sports meet.
“The achievement this time is the best in Malaysia’s Olympic history… we won five medals, four silver and a bronze.
“In terms of percentage as compared to the size of the contingent which this time numbered 32 athletes, we succeeded in winning five medals. That translates to 25 per cent, our finest achievement so far.
“Besides that, our contingent also won medals in three sports …cycling the other sport contributing this time. This is a good sign for Malaysia,” he told a press conference after the grand welcoming home ceremony for the national contingent to the Rio Games at the Bunga Raya Complex, KLIA here today.
According to him, the success in Rio had put Malaysia on track for bigger things at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Khairy sees badminton, diving and cycling as the country’s best bets to win medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“We are still depending on badminton…diving has high potential and I believe diving could contribute more than one medal in Tokyo.
“Similarly with cycling, Azizulhasni has announced that he will continue to be active in sprint and keirin but we have to increase the number of junior cyclists,” he said.
Meanwhile, Khairy said the medal potential of sports such as archery, shooting and sailing should be reviewed to prepare new plans.
“I want medal contributors (in Tokyo) from various sports. I do not want to depend on only one type of sport,” he said.
At the Tokyo Games, he said among the new sports listed is karate and Malaysia had the opportunity to make it a medal contributing sport.
On the additional reward announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today, Khairy described it as the government’s recognition of the contributions of national athletes.
“This is an incentive I believe in recognition of the national Olympic contingent especially when we achieved the best ever Olympics performance. It would certainly give our athletes a boost,” he said.
According to Khairy, during his week-long stay in Rio to watch Malaysian athletes compete, not one athlete asked about incentives.
“That was the last thing on their minds. They all competed for the nation,” he said.
The Prime Minister today announced an additional RM200,000 reward to all silver and bronze medal winners at the Rio Olympics.
It is in addition to RM300,000 and RM100,000 announced by the government earlier for athletes who won silver and bronze medals at largest sporting event in the world. – BERNAMA