By Ili Aqilah Yus Amirul
The Sukma Games (Sukan Malaysia, literally Malaysian Games) is a biannual national multi-sport event involving young athletes from the country’s 13-member states and Federal Territory.
It was initiated by the then Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Anwar Ibrahim in 1983. The rationale was that a national games will help improve quality, produces and encourages athletes to participate in sports at state level, improve officials’ expertise, encourages the building of new and the upgrading of existing sporting facilities at state level and inculcate a national-integration spirit among Malaysians.
The inaugural games, supposed to have begun in the months of August and September 1985 and consisting of six events namely, tennis, table tennis, cycling, athletics, sepak takraw and volleyball did not go as planned. A counter proposal by the public to include additional events was submitted and accepted by the National Sports Council of Malaysia. A decision was also made to hold the games every two years beginning 1986 and one that alternates with the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Second Time for Perak to Host SUKMA in 32 years
The first Sukma Games, held in Kuala Lumpur from April 19 to 26, 1986, saw some 3850 athletes from Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory, Malaysian Universities Sports Council, Royal Malaysian Police, Malaysian Armed Forces and the 13 states taking part. The third edition was held in Sarawak in 1990, making it the first time the games was held in East Malaysia.
This is the second time Perak is hosting the games. The first was in 1994 when Sarawak topped the medal tally with 39 gold. Perak emerged third securing 26 gold, 26 silver and 25 bronze. At the 18th Sukma Games in Sarawak in 2016, Perak was placed 12th out of 15, winning 72 medals in total (12 gold, 26 silver and 34 bronze).
What’s in Store for Host Perak?
Perak is playing host once again. And with home-ground advantage what does the 19th Sukma Games have for Perakeans? Will we improve on our standing or will we stagnate and continue to languish at the bottom? Much money and effort have been expended by both the state government and those responsible for organising the event.
Expectations amongst Perakeans are high. The eventual outcome, nevertheless, rests on the preparedness of the athletes to do battle with their adversaries. Ipoh Echo’s team of sporting reporters will keep a close watch on the progress of our much-touted athletes.
And with the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games 2018 still fresh in our minds, Sukma XIX 2018 comes at a most opportune moment.
As with all Sukma Games a likely mascot will be created to represent the host state. This edition of Sukma Games is no exception. Chor, the wildebeest, is the official mascot for Sukma XIX. Wildebeest has always been associated with Perak’s sports team. Incidentally, the official logo and mascot of the Perak Football Association (PAFA) is a wildebeest too.
The name “Chor” is a common word among Perak Malays to denote siblings’ hierarchy. “Chor is numero uno (number one) in the hierarchical order. The mascot is in three colours as per the Perak state flag – yellow, black and white.
“Wow! We’re Great”
The official slogan for the games is “Wow! Kita hebat” or “Wow! We’re great”. The word “wow” stands for “World of Wonders” an acknowledgment given by popular travel magazine, Lonely Planet to Perak following the success of Visit Perak Year 2017. The theme song, “Wow! Kita the Greatest” is available on the games’ website: sukma2018perak.gov.my.
Events and Venues
For the upcoming Sukma XIX all 12 districts in Perak will be hosting the scheduled 29 sporting events, both compulsory and elective.
There are 16 compulsory sports namely, aquatic, badminton, cycling, football, gymnastic (artistic and gymnastic dance), hockey, karate, lawn bowling, archery, shooting, athletics, sailing, squash, silat, bowling and wushu.
The 13 electives sports are: volleyball, netball, basketball, futsal, judo, cricket, muay thai, pétanque, rugby, boxing, weightlifting, sepak takraw and taekwondo.
As host, the Perak contingent will partake in all 29 categories involving 427 events. A total of 583 athletes will be participating in the games.
Instead of the initial 70 gold medals, newly-minted Executive Councillor for Sport and Youth Development, Howard Lee Chuan How, had reduced the target to a more manageable 50. According to Howard, this was decided after a heart-to-heart talk with coaches and athletes.
“I don’t pluck the figure out of thin air. We arrived at that number after careful consideration and analysis by all involved. The figure is more realistic than the previous. However, a target is just a target based from records,” said Howard who is optimistic about Perak’s athletes’ performances especially in athletics, shooting and silat.
During a state hall meeting recently, Howard shared that Perak was set to break the Sukma Games record in weightlifting.
“For the past 18 months, our athletes have been exposed to intensive training and tournaments specifically designed, based on sports science theories. Athletes are given appropriate nutrition and are psychologically evaluated. Bio-mechanic and periodisation training plans are incorporated into their training programmes,” Howard told Ipoh Echo.
Chef de mission, former national high jumper, Low Kum Zee said that the Perak contingent would surprise many as it had been preparing itself for the past two years.
“Based on my observations, the athletes have definitely improved. We’ll get a better placing than in 2016. During the 2016 games, although I wasn’t part of the contingent, it’s the lack of preparation that brought us down. It’s a different ball game this time around. Be ready to be wowed by our youngsters,” Low enthused.
Perak will be the first state to have an anti-doping station at all venues. Perak athletes will undergo pre-games doping tests, via random sampling, to ensure that none are tainted by drugs or illegal substance usage before and during the tournament.
“The Games Secretariat will go all out to ensure that Sukma XIX 2018 will not be encumbered by doping issues. We’ve acquired the assistance of the Malaysian Anti-Doping Agency. Their officers will be placed at all venues to conduct random tests on athletes,” said Perak Sukma CEO, Haji Musa Dun.
Facilities for Public Use
In 2017, former Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir revealed that the state government had allocated RM1.17 billion for the games. It involved major and minor renovations, upgrades and expansion of existing sporting facilities. With such an amount being expended, what will happen to these facilities once the games are over?
“The facilities will be open for public use once the games are over. It’s part of our plan to provide Perakeans with affordable and accessible sporting amenities to encourage a healthy lifestyle. The venues will then be managed by respective district councils based on their locations,” said Howard.
“We plan to build sporting facilities in accordance with people’s needs. Perak Sports Council (MSN Perak) will be the agency to plan and organise sporting events for the benefit of the community, especially the youths.
Ipoh Echo will endeavour to disseminate relevant information on Sukma XIX 2018 from September 11 to 22 via online (Facebook) and in print so readers get to read the latest.
We sincerely hope Perak will secure its targeted medal tally and perhaps exceed expectations by winning more. Good luck to Chor, the wildebeest.
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