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111 gold medal tally is well in sight

KUALA LUMPUR: With just four days left, the Malaysian contingent is well on its way to reaching its target of 111 gold medals at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
That is the magical number which Malaysia believes will make it the overall winner of the 29th edition of the SEA Games, which ends on Wednesday.
There are 126 gold medals still up for grabs over the next four days.
Silat, diving, cycling (track), gymnastics, sailing and water skiing are all expected to be major gold medal contributors.
More could come from hockey, with two field gold medals in sight, along with football and taekwondo.
At press time, Malaysian athletes have chalked up 83 golds to lead the medal standings with a tally of 83-58-53.
The highly-anticipated challenge from Thailand has failed to materialise as it languishes in fourth spot with a 44-64-63 haul thus far.
Surprisingly, it is Vietnam which is giving Malaysia a fight, having amassed 49-34-43 medals.
Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary-general Datuk Low Beng Choo said that the contingent has clearly surpassed expectations and is well on the way to achieving the 111 gold target.
“The performances thus far, from all the sports, have been monumental. Every sport is doing its very best and the younger athletes are making history by winning.
“I have to say that OCM is pleasantly surprised. And what caught our attention is the massive support from the fans.
“We are not talking about the so-called big sports. Even sports like volleyball, where our medal chances are slim, have attracted huge crowds.
“We didn’t expect this at all but Malaysians have all come together to make this SEA Games a national affair,” she said.
Malaysia last hosted the Games in 2001 and bagged 111 gold medals to be overall champion.
For this Games, the National Sports Council (NSC) started a two-year “Kita Juara” programme soon after the Singapore Games ended in 2015.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has been at the forefront leading the charge for medals.
He is also a member of the national polo team, which is expected to deliver the gold medal as well.
It is already on record that over RM100mil has been spent on the programme.
Thus, it will be a nerve-racking four days as the Malaysian contingent tries to ward off any late surge by its rival countries.
With the Games ending on Aug 30, and things going according to plan, Malaysia can expect its best-ever birthday present when it celebrates 60 years of Merdeka on Aug 31.
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