Tougher roads ahead for SEA Games winners

Tougher roads ahead for SEA Games winners
Some of the Malaysian SEA Games athletes in a jovial mood after receiving cash and a medal at the OCM-Sports Toto Outstanding Athletes of the Games Awards 2013 in KL on Thursday.

KUALA LUMPUR - The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and Sports Toto paid tribute to some of Malaysia's best performing athletes at the recently concluded SEA Games in Myanmar at the 2013 OCM-Sports Toto Outstanding Athletes of the Games Awards ceremony on Thursday.

A total to 18 individual winners from 14 sports including Daniel Bego and Christina Loh (swimming), Ooi Tze Liang and Cheong Jun Hong (diving), Khairul Anuar Mohd (archery), Jironi Ridhuan (athletics), Vivian Hoon and Woon Khe Wei (badminton) Syakilla Salnu Jefry Krishnan (karate) and Sulaiman Muda (equestrian) as well as Malaysia's 1,000th gold medallist Phoon Eyin (wushu) were among those rewarded for their gold medal-winning performances at the ceremony held at the OCM Sport Museum and Hall of Fame at Wisma OCM.

The selected gold medal winning athletes each received RM1,000 and a gold medal respectively while the 18 players from both the men's and women's hockey team received RM500 and a gold medal each. OCM also received RM13,000 from Sports Toto bringing the total award disbursement to RM50,000.

"I'm quite satisfied with my performance at the Games, I was really surprised to nail a personal best (2:32.56s) in the 200m (backstroke) because I don't really like that event. But I'm definitely looking forward to next year's Commonwealth and Asian Games.

Hopefully I can calm my nerves during major events and improve on my results. I've made the 100m semi-finals at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010. So hopefully, I can equal that for both 100m and 200m events or even better make the finals," said Christina, who clinched gold in the women's 100m and 200m breaststroke at the SEA Games last week.

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar who handed out the awards said that the athletes should feel bolstered by their performances at the Games but should not rest on their laurels especially with two of the biggest multi-sport Games after the Olympics - Commonwealth Games (July 23-Aug 3) and Asian Games (Sept 19-Oct 4) looming next year.

"I commend them on their brilliant performance at the SEA Games and for exceeding the 40-gold target with a haul of 43 gold medals but it's going to be a tough year in 2014," said Tunku Imran.

"Not to take away anything from the SEA Games, but the Commonwealth and Asian Games are of higher standings. The competition is also that much more stronger with powerhouses like England, Australia, Canada and New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games and the likes of China, South Korea, Japan and Kazakhstan at the Asiad. And so our athletes should always strive to do better and raise their game to bring back the gold at every level of competition.

"So our athletes and coaches are going to have to work doubly hard to ensure the athletes peak during the Commonwealth and Asian Games which are quite close to each other. So it's definitely going to be a challenge for them."

The awards, which first began in 1995 under John Hancock Insurance (1995-2002) and later Manulife (2003-2008) before being taken over by Sports Toto in 2010, is to give recognition to sporting excellence in the international arena.

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