TOKYO, Aug 8 — Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria considers the national contingent’s achievement at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as “very good” despite their failure to meet the three-medal target, with one of them being gold.

He said the one silver and one bronze feat at the Tokyo Olympics equalled the country’s second-best achievement at the 2012 London Games.

“We are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic that has been going on for 18 months, the Olympics had to be postponed by a year, our athletes were also stressed training under the sports bubble concept. Apart from that, many tournaments were either postponed or cancelled.

“This is not a normal Olympics. Our athletes had, for a start, qualified despite the difficult circumstances. Secondly, their achievement is praiseworthy. Congratulations to all medal winners and athletes who fought all out for the country in Tokyo,” he told the media via an audio clip.

With the curtain coming down on the Tokyo Olympics today, Malaysia ended their campaign with silver from national track cyclist Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang in keirin and bronze through national shuttlers Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik in men’s doubles.

This equals the silver-bronze feat achieved at the London edition in 2012 through men’s singles shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei (silver) and Pandelela Rinong (bronze in women’s 10m platform). Malaysia’s best achievement came in the 2016 Rio edition when the national contingent returned with four silvers and a bronze.

Commenting on Azizulhasni’s achievement in the keirin final today, Norza described it as something extraordinary, adding that the 33-year-old world-class cyclist possessed exceptional determination and capability.

“What is astounding (about his silver-medal feat) is that the (keirin) event took place on the final day of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, surely that puts a very heavy burden on Azizul’s shoulders. But with the blessings and prayers of all Malaysians, he finally brought us good news today,” he said.

While thanking the government for its support in providing Covid-19 vaccination and permission for the athletes to make their Olympic preparations, he was also grateful that all the national athletes competing in the world’s biggest multi-sports Games were safe and protected from the disease.

Norza also said that the planning and preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics should begin soon, adding that he had faith that Malaysia’s Olympic gold medal dream would be achieved in Paris.

“Based on the results of the 2020 Tokyo, we can see the emergence of young athletes like Lee Zii Jia, Aaron, Wooi Yik (badminton), Nur Dhabitah Sabri (diving), Syaqiera Mashayikh (archery) and Azreen Nabila Alias (athletics). This augurs well for our preparations for Paris. 

“In addition, I believe senior athletes like Pandelela, Azizul will consider competing again in Paris. It is three years down the road, therefore preparations have to start now and we have to engage with the NSC (National Sports Council) and all the NSAs (national sports associations) in terms of coming up with more bold plans to try to get that elusive gold medal,” he said. — Bernama