PUTRAJAYA — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad urged Malaysia to finish in the top 10 among 45 nations after handing over Jalur Gemilang to the national contingent yesterday.
“I’m confident this contingent is capable of a more meaningful achievement,” he said, recalling Malaysia clinching 10th position at Guangzhou 2010.
“I don’t see why we can’t repeat the success or do even better.”
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia had world class athletes — Al Jufferi Jamari (silat), Azizulhasni Awang (cycling) and Wong Weng Soon (wushu) among others — to count on.
“I’m also confident the selected athletes are the best and capable of bringing glory to the country,” he said of the 426-strong contingent.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and several other Cabinet ministers also attended the ceremony.
Dr Mahathir added: “I trust all of you carry the responsibility for our beloved country and will give your best.
“Competing (at the Games) isn’t just for the rewards and incentives, but to have the Jalur Gemilang fly high on the world arena.”
Dr Mahathir told the athletes to emulate the spirit of badminton ace Lee Chong Wei, who will not compete as he is recovering from an illness.
“Even if he cannot be with you, his fighting spirit should serve as a catalyst for the contingent to come home with success,” he said, adding he hoped Chong Wei would get well soon.
Meanwhile, Syed Saddiq said the contingent had been set a seven gold medal target.
“The sports that can give us gold are cycling, karate, sepak takraw, pencak silat dan tenpin bowling,” he told reporters.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir handed the national flag to chef-de-mission Datuk Seri Azim Zabidi.
Azim then handed it to flagbearer, karate exponent Syakilla Salni Jefry Krishnan.
The Games in Indonesia will be held in Jakarta and Palembang from Aug 18 to Sept 2.
Malaysia take part in 35 of the 40 events at the world’s second largest multi-sport event. — Bernama