THE Sea Games, in its 56 years history, has never seen anything like this.
For the first time ever, of the 11 participating nations, a contingent, that is MALAYSIA, will march behind not one but three world champions at the opening ceremony of the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games on August 19.
Cyclist Azizulhasni Awang, pencak silat exponent Mohd Al Jufferi Jamari and diver Cheong Jun Hoong will have the honour of being Malaysia’s flag bearers for the 29th edition of the biennial spectacular.
Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the three athletes were given the honour in recognition of their achievements on the world stage.
Khairy said the decision was made after conducting a detailed evaluation of the country’s top candidates.
“After much consideration, we have decided to do things differently this time and have three flag bearers,” said Khairy at the national contingent’s final camp at Hotel Renaissance in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
“This is in recognition of their achievements as all three are world champions.”
Jufferi was surprised to be selected for the role and is eager to do the nation proud at the games.
“I was not aware of the selection. I was only told to be prepared,” he said.
“It gives me added motivation to do well. I can’t wait, if possible I want the Sea Games to start tomorrow.”
Khairy said: “The war drums have been sounded, the torch has been lit. We are physically and mentally ready, there is nothing that can stop us now. Go out and chase for the gold, never give up,” said Khairy in his speech.
“There are many things to worry about but there is only one that keeps me up at night and it is not the opening ceremony, not the website, not the public transport or even our social media sites.
“The main concern for me is the desire that each of of you (athletes) have, regardless of whether male or female, whether you compete in the Sea Games or Para Games, whether you are from Johor or Sarawak, young or veteran, to win a gold medal.”
Khairy stressed that the national athletes should not waste all the efforts and sacrifices they have made over the years and should live up to their potential at the games.
Translated from Berita Harian