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Cover Story: SUKMA XIX Closes With a Bang

By Ili Aqilah Yus Amirul and Tan Mei Kuan

The 19th SUKMA (Sukan Malaysia) Games bade farewell after 15 days of competition. Terengganu rose to the occasion and emerged overall champion once more, winning 56 gold, 51 silver and 53 bronze medals defeating 13 other states including guest, Brunei. This is their fifth win following success in 2008 (Terengganu), 2010 (Malacca), 2011 (Kuala Lumpur) and 2012 (Pahang).

Complementing the victory, three Terengganu athletes established new Games records. Azreen Nabila returned a record-shattering 11.81s in the Women’s 100m dash surpassing the 11.82s by Siti Fatimah Mohamad in SUKMA 2008. Muhamad Najmi lifted 164kg in the Men’s 69kg Clean and Jerk category outdoing Mohd Mansor’s aggregate of 163kg in SUKMA 2014 while shooter Muhammad Qamarul collected 541 points in the Men’s 50m Pistol beating Jasmi Mohammad Zin and Mutahir Johari joint record of 540 points.

Despite Problems and Fake News, SUKMA Was a Great Success

Terengganu’s chef de mission who is also mayor of Kuala Terengganu is mighty proud of his team’s performance. He thanked everyone involved, especially the athletes and officials who had worked hard to achieve success.

Archer Lo Foh Soon from Sabah and Terengganu’s sprinter, Azreen Nabilah Alias were named Sportsman and Sportswoman of SUKMA XIX during the closing ceremony on Saturday, September 22 at Stadium Perak.

Lo secured three gold medals for Sabah when he came out top in the 70m, 50m and 30m individual compound events and a silver in a the group category. The teenager even broke the 30m Compound Men Individual national record held by Khambeswaran (Penang). He is the new record holder in the 70m and 50m individual compound events.

Sprinter Azreen bagged three gold medals in Women’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. The 18-year-old is preparing for the upcoming 2019 SEA Games. This was her first time to ever win gold since participating actively in 2014.

Perak’s Performances

Host Perak has certainly improved compared to its achievement at the 18th SUKMA Games in Sarawak (2016). With a total of 37 gold, 50 silver and 56 bronze, the home team finished in fifth spot on the medal tally.

Shooting contributed the most number of gold medals, seven in all, along with four silver and three bronze. The winning events were Men’s 10m Air Pistol (Siau ZIanyi), Men’s 10m Air Rifle (Ahmad Khusyairi), Men’s 10m Air Rifle Team (Ahmad Khusyairi, Loo Jie Rien and Muhammad Aiman), Women’s 10m Air Rifle Team (Nur Fatin), Nurul Athirah and Sharifah Noor Ellyana), Men’s 50m Pistol Team (Ilmi Azri, Muhd Amir and Siau Zianyi), Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions (Loo Jie Ren), Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Position Team (Ahmad Khusyairi, Loo Jie Ren and Muhammad Aiman).

Twenty one medals from Athletics namely, 6 gold, 8 silver and 7 bronze. The winners were Mior Muhammad (Men’s 10km and 20km Walk), Juriani Mat Rodzi (Women’s 100m Hurdles), Shereen Samson Vallabouy (Women’s 400m), Ngu Jia Xin (Women’s High Jump) and Kirthana Ramasamy (Women’s Triple Jump).

The state’s archery team garnered a total of 4 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze. Perak’s archers secured gold in the 50m Recurve Women Individual, 70m Recurve Women Individual, Compound Women Individual and Recurve Women Team. Four gold medals were secured via Muay Thai, three from Pencak Silat while Judo, Karate, Petanque and Handball acquired two gold each. And one gold from Gymnastic Artistic, Sailing, Sepak Takraw and Weightlifting.

Perak was the soccer champion beating Kedah 2-1 in a bruising match at Stadium Perak on Wednesday, September 19.

Compared to SUKMA 2016 when it won 12 gold, 26 silver and 34 bronze, host Perak has definitely improved although it fell short of the 50 gold medals target.

Controversies and Issues

Despite Perak’s stellar performance as host and participant, the Games’ Secretariat had to face several problems throughout the 15 days sporting event.

Among the first problem the management encountered was that related to accommodation. It was first raised on September 8 by shuttlers from Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. It was regarding poor accommodation blocks at Izzuddin Shah School, Ipoh, where only one out of the five blocks was fit for occupation. Executive Councillor for Sports and Youth Development, Howard Lee and his team managed to resolve the problem, post haste.

The school was chosen due to last-minute withdrawal by Ipoh Vocational College. The affected athletes were supposed to be billeted at University Technology Mara (UiTM), Tapah but the order was rescinded due to distance.

The second issue was the dissemination of fake news when several photos showing the poor condition of rooms were leaked by a news portal. Howard told reporters that the report was a complete fabrication.

“Issues raised were stained mattresses, broken lockers and rundown bathrooms. However, based on our investigation, it was revealed that both coaches and athletes are generally satisfied with the facilities available,” said Howard. The venue was located at the Industrial Training Institute (ILP) and those affected were shuttlers from Kelantan, Sabah, Sarawak, Perlis and Pahang.

ILP was originally earmarked for shooters. They were supposed to check in on September 13. However, due to the closure of Izzuddin Shah School, Ipoh, those affected were billeted at ILP instead of UiTM Tapah. Distance being the major consideration.

Two mumps cases were also reported during the Games; one from Sabah-futsal and another from Negeri Sembilan. The first case was reported at Manjung on September 7. The patient was quarantined. Further examinations found 11 more athletes with similar symptoms. Sabah team had to withdraw its female futsal team from participating in the Games to avoid the virus from spreading.

A later case was confirmed by the Perak State Health Department on September 13 where one lawn bowler from Negeri Sembilan was down with mumps. The 19-year old player was exposed to her sister who was docked by the disease back home. She reported to the medical officer on September 10. After a brief meeting between the Games Secretariat and Negeri Sembilan games officials the affected athlete was bundled home.

E-Sports in SUKMA

Electronic sport or e-sports, featured in SUKMA XIX on Friday, September 21 at Indera Mulia Stadium. It was a joint effort by the state government, Perak Youth Aspiration Centre, Perak State Sports Council and the Games Secretariat.

It encompassed three types of consoles (computer, Playstation 4 and smartphone) in six games (DotA 2, Counter Strike Global Offensive, FiFA 18, Pro Evolution Soccer, Mobile Legend and Players Unknown Battle Ground). The public had the opportunity to witness top-notch E-sportsmen such as AirAsia Saiyan, TGC Team, Amato, Shige, InFamous9, Nia Adyana, Haikal, Keron and Honor MyA, among others.

Farewell to Games

The 19th edition of SUKMA Games ended with a bang on Saturday, September 22 at Perak Stadium. The venue was lit up by the colour of light sticks and flashlight of phones from the cheering spectators, forming a giant ocean of glitter. Meanwhile, the centre stage was accentuated by an ever-changing, multi-hued spotlight.

Present were guest-of-honour, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu, Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq bin Syed Abdul Rahman, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran and other dignitaries.

After the parade of athletes, Lo Foh Soon and Azreen Nabila were crowned the Games’ Sportsman and Sportswoman, respectively. The SUKMA flame was extinguished and the championship flag was lowered. Both the torch and the flag were passed to Johor, host of the 20th SUKMA Games in 2020. The handover was done by Ahmad Faizal Azumu to Datuk Osman Sapian, Menteri Besar Johor and witnessed by Dr Wan Azizah and Syed Saddiq.

“SUKMA 2018 is acknowledged as among the best organised ones in history. Congratulations to Howard Lee, the Executive Councillor for Sports and Youth Development, Dato’ Ghazali Jalal and Tuan Musa Don for their hard work in making sure the Games ran smoothly,” Ahmad Faizal Azumu enthused.

“The 19th SUKMA Games created history when Perak becomes the first host to introduce the Media Awards for print, electronic and photography categories to appreciate the media in promoting the games. Huge congratulations to the Perak football team for being the defending champion with a gold medal, a hat trick achievement,” he said.

“I am glad to announce that the state government will take steps to make Ipoh into a Sports City, a sports hub for mainstream events, extreme sports and e-Games,” he concluded.

“Perak now has international standard sports facilities which are on par, if not better, with other states such as the Tuanku Zara Aquatic Centre, Darul Ridzuan Shooting Complex, and the first rugby stadium in Malaysia,” Dr Wan Azizah highlighted.

Among the performance highlights were colour guard, drumline, mass formations by over 1600 on stage, cultural performance, firework and songs by well-known crooners, Dato’ Jamal Abdillah and Dato’ Awie.

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Tan Mei Kuan

Tan Mei Kuan graduated with first-class honours and book prize from University of Malaya majoring in languages and linguistics (English). She is proficient in both written and spoken English and Malay. She is also conversant in Mandarin and has knowledge of Japanese and Korean languages. Mei Kuan has been on the Dean’s List for three years running. Having written for the campus newspaper and residential college magazine, joining Ipoh Echo has helped utilise her writing and language skills. In her spare time she enjoys running (races).

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