25/06/2024 12:15 PM

From Nurul Izzati Mansor

SURABAYA, June 25 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian contingent competing in the 2024 ASEAN University Games (AUG) is carrying high expectations from the country's fans at the biennial meet, which will officially open here tonight.

This follows Malaysia's decision to field high-profile athletes in a bid to secure gold medals, with a target of 35 golds set by the Higher Education Ministry.

Undoubtedly, the national athletes bear a heavy responsibility to ensure Malaysia finishes among the top three and maybe surpasses the 49-gold haul achieved at the 2022 edition in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand.

The athletics team features three national record holders, Muhammad Azeem Mohd Fahmi in men's 100 metres (m), Umar Osman in men's 400m and Shereen Samson Vallabouy in women's 400m.

Men's team compound archery national record holder Mohamad Syafiq Md Ariffin and two SEA Games 2023 gold medallists, taekwondo exponent Muhammad Syafiq Zuber and karateka Shahmalarani Chandran, will also be in action in the games, which runs until July 6.

The national contingent will have to face the challenge from hosts Indonesia, who will certainly want to take advantage of competing on home ground to dominate the games and emerge overall champions.

Furthermore, the threat from defending champions Thailand cannot be ruled out.

The question is, can the Malaysian contingent meet the expectations placed on the shoulders of the national athletes to achieve the gold medal target?

In the 2022 edition, Malaysia emerged as the runners-up behind the hosts after winning 49 gold, 83 silver and 50 bronze medals.

The Malaysian contingent of 382 athletes and officials will compete in 18 out of the 20 events on offer, and Umar will be the flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the games.



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