KUALA LUMPUR: Chef-de-mission Datuk Ho Koh Chye has one wish for the Beijing Olympics-bound athletes as they move into the final phase of their preparations for the Games in August. He wants them all to remain injury-free.
Malaysia now have 32 athletes in their contingent and they will compete in eight sports – aquatics (swimming and diving), athletics, archery, track cycling, badminton, sailing, shooting and taekwondo.
The latest to make the grade is high jumper Lee Hup Wei, who met the qualifying mark of 2.27m in winning the gold medal at the China Open in Beijing on Sunday. The effort by Hup Wei also broke the national record of 2.24m, set by Loo Kum Zee at the 1995 SEA Games in Chiang Mai.
For the 2004 Athens Olympics, Malaysia were represented by 26 athletes in 10 sports.
Koh Chye said that their greatest concern now was athletes coming down with injury in the run-up to the Games.
“At this level, remaining injury free is half the battle won. If they suffer injuries, they have to spend precious time on rehabilitation and we will not know whether they will be able to peak in competition,” said Koh Chye after visiting the Olympic-bound shuttlers at the National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
The number of athletes in the Malaysian contingent may increase. The women recurve archers will bid to make the grade from the world qualifiers in France at the end of next month while triathlete Kimbeley Yap is hoping for a wild card.
Malaysia, who have no qualifiers for team sports, are looking at ending a medal drought in two previous Games.
Badminton remains the best bet for medals but recent good performances from Malaysian track cyclists and archers have raised hopes of surprises in Beijing.
The men's recurve team emerged with silver medal finishes in the Olympic test event and Asian Championships in Xian last year.
In track cycling, Azizul Hasni Awang stamped his mark by taking two gold medals in the Asian Championships in Japan in April. He retained his keirin title and also won the 200m sprint.
“In track cycling and archery, our male athletes have showed their competitiveness against some of the best in the world. There is hope that they can rise to the occasion,” said Koh Chye.