100 Days To Paris Olympics: Malaysia's Prospects Of Clinching Gold Still Hazy 

Datuk Dr Pekan Ramli
17/04/2024 07:06 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 (Bernama) - Exactly 100 days from now, elite athletes from around the world and thousands of sports fans will gather at the banks of the Seine River, Paris for the opening ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games, the first to be held in an open area as opposed to a controlled stadium environment.

This includes the Malaysian contingent, who will attend with aspirations to end nearly seven decades of waiting for the first gold medal on the Olympic stage, since their inaugural participation in the 1956 Melbourne edition.

However, realistically, three months before the scheduled extravaganza  from July 26 to August 11, Malaysia's chances of clinching gold remain uncertain, with six athletes having officially qualified, while several others await confirmation.

Local sports analyst Datuk Dr Pekan Ramli believes that this time around is different from several past editions, where gold prospects could be pinned on athletes like badminton legend Datuk Lee Chong Wei and track cycling champion Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang, who missed out on the gold in keirin at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"But this time, we have not seen full confidence to place high stakes on any athlete. Not only for gold, but betting for any medal is quite challenging, and the size of the contingent is expected to be smaller this time," he told Bernama.

"Athletes who will compete in Paris 2024 need to put themselves in a state of consistent performance because it can boost confidence to challenge the world's best. If the performance fluctuates, if they go with less than optimal form, it will be quite difficult," he said.

He said that Mohd Azizulhasni, also who won bronze at the Rio 2016 edition in the keirin event, and the badminton pair of Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik who clinched the men's doubles bronze in Tokyo, are the main bets for medals.

However, the inconsistent performances of Aaron-Wooi Yik and Mohd Azizulhasni, who emerged as world champions for the men's doubles in 2022 and keirin in 2017, are cause for concern.

"We know Azizulhasni is a fighter, with determination, good mental strength, and a high spirit of patriotism, but his health condition is somewhat worrying," said Pekan.

He also called on all athletes representing the country at the Olympics to give their full focus and double their efforts in the final 100 days so that they can achieve their targeted results.

Six athletes have officially secured their spots at the Paris Olympics so far - diver Bertrand Rhodict Lises, Nur Shazrin Mohd Latif (sailing), Johnathan Wong (shooting), Ariana Nur Dania Mohd Zairi (archery), Nur Aisyah Mohd Zubir (road cycling), and Mohamad Aniq Kasdan (weightlifting).

Three track cyclists - Mohd Azizulhasni Awang, Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom, and Nurul Izzah Izzati Mohd Asri - have also qualified, but have not yet been officially announced by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).