Olympic Council of Malaysia president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria said that the Philippines included just way too many obscure sports which there were good at to become the overall champions of the just concluded SEA Games.
Norza, after chairing the OCM executive meeting, also said that an official letter to the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) to stop hosts from going overboard by including obscure sports would be sent soon,
Philippines finished as the overall champions of the Games with their best ever haul of 149 gold medals. The Philippines were dominant in a couple of sports, especially Arnis where they won 14 gold medals, dancesports with 10 golds and a clean sweep of all six medals in the obstacle race.
They were not the best performers some of the other newer events including sambo and kurash and even failed to win any gold in events like underwater hockey and floorball.
Would the scenario be any different had the Philippines just opted to keep just the events contested at the Asian Games or the Olympics?
If all the events not contested at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games is dropped from the medal tally, the Phillippines only end up with 84 gold medals, a deficit of 65 from their SEA Games tally.
But, that would not take away the overall title from the Philippines, because all the other teams would also see their medal tally being reduced. Vietnam would see their gold medal tally dropping to 80 (minus 18), Thailand getting 73 (minus 19), Indonesia dropping to 56 (minus 16), Malaysia amassing a mere 35 (minus 20) the same number as Singapore (minus 18)
If we just take into consideration of the events contested at the Tokyo Olympics and the next Winter Olympiad, the results are more or less the same. The only outlier result would be Malaysia finishing sixth behind Singapore.
Based on the Olympic events, Malaysia will have only 31 medals, nine short of Singapore. The Philippines will still be atop the standings with 78 gold followed by Vietnam (70), Thailand (68) and Indonesia (53).
So the data shows that the exclusion of the so-called obscure sports would not have changed the overall results. At worse it has only diluted the image of the biennial event.
There is no doubt that the Philippines included certain sports to give them the opportunity to clinch the overall title.
But, they are not the only hosts to have done that before, even Malaysia are guilty of the same. Malaysia after all introduced petanque at the SEA Games in 2001 when the game was hardly known in Malaysia.
Perhaps instead of including sports like underwater hockey, floorball, arnis and obstacle race, the SEAGF should look into incorporating sports contested at the Asian Games, at the least. This includes sports like equestrian, sports climbing, kabaddi and cricket, which are all being contested in Hangzhou in two year’s time.
The data does not augur too well for Malaysia, who seem to be relying more on the non-Olympic sports to beef up their medal tally at the SEA Games. Although Malaysia did win five gold in athletics, the performances in other Olympic sports like fencing, wrestling, weightlifting, swimming and shooting was dismal.
These six sports alone offered 137 medals in Manila, and Malaysia managed to win a meager seven medals from them.
Of the numerous martial arts events contested at the SE Games, kurash, jiu jitsu, judo, karate and wushu would be competed at the next Asian Games. These five martial arts events offered 66 medals in Manila and Malaysian exponents were able to win only six.
To put in perspective from the above 11 sports offering 203 medals, Malaysia managed only 13 medals or just 6.4% success rate.
The fault for Malaysia’s failure to finish higher in the SEA Games is not because of the inclusion of obscure sports but because we are simply not good enough where it matters.