Had it not been for Malaysian athletes’ mental fragility, the country would certainly have returned from the recent Asian Games in Indonesia with more than seven gold medals.
Malaysia squandered gold medal opportunities on two occasions, not because of biased judging as alleged in certain sports such as pencak silat, but through an inability to force their way to victory.
It is a point which former Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar said needs to be acknowledged, and remedied.
Tunku cited the case of the men’s hockey team which led slip a 5-2 lead against Japan in the final in an eventual 6-6 draw before losing 3-1 in a penalty shootout and the women’s squash team which lost 2-0 to India in the semi-finals.
The squash team’s defeat, the first in the history of the women’s team event which was introduced in 2010, came despite Malaysia having won the women’s individual gold and silver medals through Nicol David and S. Sivasangari respectively.
“You have to wonder where is the mental toughness to get over our weak points like how those from Australia or England do.
“The men’s hockey team lost from a winning position while the women’s squash team really should not have lost in the semi-finals with the individual gold and silver medalists in the team,” said Tunku Imran at a Malaysian Cricket Association event in Bandar Kinrara on Wednesday.
“We’ve got the skills in most sport but somehow we have to learn (about being mentally tough) and I think this has to start at a younger age. It’s about giving them the opportunity to get into tough situations at a younger age. I don’t know what the answer is but it’s a question that needs to be answered.”
Karate exponents Lim Chee Wei and Syakilla Salni Jefry Krishnan, gold medalists in 2014, were also knocked out early in their respective events while the national recurve archers were unable to hold their own against Asia’s best.
The badminton players ended up a without a medal for the first time since 1986 in the absence of the ill Lee Chong Wei while the national wushu exponents returned empty-handed for the second edition in a row.
MALAYSIA’S ASIAN GAMES MEDAL HISTORY