KUALA LUMPUR – The bold and tempting target of 10 track and field gold medals at the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia has been embraced as a realistic challenge, said national athletics head coach Manshahar Abdul Jalil.
He said it is within reach of the national athletics squad.
Manshahar said the coaching staff, which had been informed in advance of the target and has held discussions, would work hard to realise the ambition.
“I think it is not a negative one, we (the coaches) accept it as a positive one so that we can move forward and work hard to be better prepared with more systematic planning come what may,” he said when contacted by Bernama today.
Based on the initial planning, Manshahar said five or six golds were targeted in the field events while the track athletes could potentially deliver four to five gold medals.
He said the coaching staff has identified a list of athletes who could form the backbone for the gold hunt in Cambodia as well as those who could create surprises based on latest records.
Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) president Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim yesterday set a target of 10 gold medals for the national athletics squad at the 2023 SEA Games scheduled to take place in the middle of next year, according to local media reports.
Shahidan, who is also the Minister of Federal Territories, is confident that the goal can be achieved based on the potential of the country’s athletes at this time.
For the record, eight gold medals has been the most successful haul by the national athletics squad in the last 10 SEA Games notably in 2003, 2005 and 2017 while in the last two editions of 2019 and 2022, five gold medals were brought home.
The five gold raked in by the national athletics squad at the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam last month, came from men’s hammer thrower Jackie Wong, Andre Anura Anuar (men’s triple jump), Muhammad Irfan Shamsuddin (men’s discus), Grace Wong (women’s hammer) and Nor Sarah Adi in the women’s pole vault.
Meanwhile, Manshahar said the staging of the 20th Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Kuala Lumpur this September was important in the run-up as a prelude to the mission of 10 gold medals in Cambodia.
“In Sukma, as we identify the best teenage athletes who can be absorbed into the athletics contingent, I think the combination of senior and junior athletes will be crucial,” he said.