THE National Sports Council (NSC) has expressed satisfaction with the 90 gold medals won by the Malaysian contingent in the 9th ASEAN Para Games which concluded on Saturday (23 Sept).

National Sports Council Director-General, Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, said although the target of 103 gold medals set for the contingent fell short by 13 gold, it was nevertheless a commendable effort.

“We had targeted to emerge as overall champions but 90 gold is also a good achievement as we finished second behind Indonesia,” said Datuk Ahmad Shapawi.

“It was a great improvement as compared to our third-placing at the 2015 Singapore Para Games (52 gold). Our athletes performed better than Thailand and we’re certainly proud of them,” he added.

The week-long Para Games, which began on Sept 17 and concluded with a colourful closing ceremony at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday night (Sept 23) saw Indonesia taking the overall crown with 126 gold, 75 silver and 50 bronze medals followed by Malaysia (90-85-83) and Thailand (68-73-95) in third position.

Speaking at a post-ASEAN Para Games press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (Sept 23), Datuk Ahmad Shapawi added that wheelchair archery, wheelchair basketball and football 5-on-5 were gold medal prospect events which did not live up to expectation but NSC is impressed with the athletes’ contribution.

“Had they won a couple of gold medals our final medal count would have been higher,” said Datuk Ahmad Shapawi, adding that Malaysia’s target of 103 gold medals was based on the performance of athletes two years ago, unlike the Indonesians and Thais who were represented by a  high number of debutants.

“We had also expected several athletes to deliver more than two goals but injuries sustained by them in the Games hampered gold-medal winning feats. Ridzuan Puzi and Felicia Mikat (athletics), Jamery Siga (swimming) and Mohd Shahmil (powerlifting) are classic examples,” said the NSC boss.

Athletics contributed the bulk of the gold medals (36) followed by cycling (22), tenpin bowling (11) and swimming (9). In total Malaysian athletes won 258 medals, including silver and bronze.

Nine new Para Games records were also set by Malaysian athletes in swimming (6), athletics (2) and powerlifting (1). Apart from that the 9th ASEAN Para Games also witnessed the rise of several promising athletes such as S. Thavaneshvaran, Eddy Bernard and Wong Kar Gee (athletics), Ikhwan Ramli (badminton) and cyclists Muhamad Afiq Afify and Adi Raimie Amizazahan.

The next ASEAN Para Games will be held in Manila, Philippines in 2019.