SULTAN Mizan Zainal Abidin is the biggest omission from the 844-strong national Sea Games contingent, Malaysia’s largest ever, which was finalised yesterday.
The Terengganu ruler graciously withdrew due to his horse being deemed unfit to compete in the equestrian endurance event on Aug 20 at the Terengganu International Endurance Park in Lembah Bidong.
“Tuanku Mizan withdrew in the best interest of the endurance team as His Highness felt his horse was not ready and would not do justice to the team,” said Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary-general Datuk Low Beng Choo.
“It was very gracious of His Highness, who very much wanted to compete in the Sea Games and had been training hard every day.”
Sultan Mizan’s withdrawal is not expected to affect the endurance riders’ bid for gold in the individual and team events as the six-member team have a wealth of international experience.
There were few other surprises in the finalised list of the national contingent with sprinter S. Komalam Shally not included after being dropped over unspecified disciplinary issues.
The Malaysian Athletics Federation elected not to enter a second runner in the 200m event in which Komalam had been selected with Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli the only entry in the longer sprint.
Norris Foo was included as Komalam’s replacement in the women’s 4x100m quartet while the 63-member athletics squad also include veteran Yuan Yufang, the sole surviving athlete from 2001 when Malaysia last hosted the Sea Games.
A five-time Sea Games gold medallist, Yufang, 41, has been entered in the women’s 5,000m event and the 10,000m walk.
The China-born athlete first won the 10,000m walk gold in 1999 before winning four 20km walk titles from 2001 to 2007.
Yufang will have 21-year-old Elena Goh for company in the walk event with the latter having finished fourth in the 20km walk in Singapore two years ago.
At nine years old, water skiier Adam Yoong Hanifah is the youngest member of the Malaysian contingent while Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is among a seven-member polo team.
The national contingent is Malaysia’s largest in the history of the Sea Games and also the biggest at this Kuala Lumpur edition with Thailand’s 818 athletes the most from a foreign country.
“With the number of athletes that we have, we are entered in almost every event,” said OCM president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar.
“The selection committee stated that every athlete entered must have credibility and able to compete with the very best.
“I’m happy with the spread of athletes and I’m sure the medals will be spread out across a lot of different sports.”
Of the 404 events to be held in 38 sports, Malaysia do not have a representative in the men’s and women’s 10,000m and women’s marathon in athletics and the women’s 200m butterfly in swimming.
In a strategic move, the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia elected not to compete in the men’s and women’s jumbo doubles in a bid to encourage competition in the sport among regional countries.