The Malaysian contingent failed to meet their target of winning 70 gold medals at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.
Despite aiming to surpass the achievement of winning 68 gold medals in Thailand in 2007, Malaysia, who bagged 145 gold on home soil two years ago, only managed to clinch 56.
With only one event remaining on Wednesday — beach handball that does not involve them — Malaysia would not be able to add more to their medal tally.
It was also fewer than their total haul of 61 gold medals when the Philippines previously hosted the SEA Games in 2005.
After wushu exponent Loh Choon How kicked things off with his men's taijiquan victory on the first day, the national contingent met expectations in several sports such as netball (one gold), indoor hockey (two), squash (four), lawn bowls (four), artistic and rhythmic gymnastics (eight), and diving (four).
There were also a few pleasant surprises in store, with the badminton team recording their best performance in 44 years, a first-ever gold medal in chess for the country, and Malaysia defending the gold medal in the men's 100m event, won by Khairul Hafiz Jantan in 2017, through Haiqal Hanafi.
As it was the first edition to feature esports and breakdancing as medal events, Malaysia also enjoyed relatively good success with an academician claiming an esports gold in Hearthstone and Sam Jee Lek becoming the inaugural winner in the men's breakdancing category.
On the other hand, several medal prospects struggled in the Philippines including the men's football team being knocked out in the group stage and the archery squad getting just one gold, a far cry from their five-gold haul in each of the past two regional meets.
Phee Jinq En provided some relief for the swimming team with two gold medals after Welson Sim failed to defend his 200m and 400m freestyle crowns, while the bowling team achieved seven podium finishes but only two were the number one spots.
There were also controversial results that denied Malaysia from winning more gold medals, such as two-time SEA Games winner Faizul Nasir adjudged to have lost after being kicked in the face, national gymnasts allegedly being victims of biased judging, and Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian failing to defend his men's 110m hurdles title despite clocking the same time as the winner.
The next edition of the SEA Games is scheduled to take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, from November 21 to December 2, 2021.
Seng Foo Lee
Tue Dec 10 2019
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