The final curtain is drawing on Rio.
And all of Malaysia is under tremendous pressure to win its first ever gold in the XXXI Olympiad.
Neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore have all clinched their gold medals, but Malaysia is still waiting as its gold medal prospects hinge on badminton.
Silver is already in the bag from diving through divers Cheong Jun Hoong and Pandalela Rinong in the women’s 10m platform synchronized on August 9.
Following suit is a newly clinched bronze from cyclist Azizulhasni Awang in the keirin.
When the Malaysian contingent marched out at Rio’s Maracana Stadium on August 5 hopes were high on badminton ace Lee Chong Wei to provide the “icing on the cake.”
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) technical director Morten Frost Hansen says Chong Wei will win the gold medal in the men’s singles and that mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying were the next best hope.
Malaysians must play to their full potential
The pair had won three matches in a row and that men’s doubles — Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong — also had the ability to win a gold medal if they played to their full potential.
True to the Danish badminton legend’s words, Malaysia’s mixed doubles is up against Indonesia in the final and its men’s doubles pair defeated China in the semifinals, bringing them closer to the dream of winning a gold.
Spirits are even higher now when just less than 12 hours after our men’s doubles clinched a spot in the final, Azizulhasni Awang cycled his way to win the bronze in a nerve-wracking keirin at the Olympic Velodrome.
Although Azizulhasni was targeted to deliver gold, it was an awesome effort to win bronze as the final had to be restarted twice and there was intense pressure on the Malaysian.
“I gave it my best and I dedicate the bronze to all Malaysians. They have supported me since I was young and I hope I have repaid their faith in me,” says Azizulhasni.
And faith is all we have whilst the clock ticks away.
Win gold medals first before thinking of hosting Olympics
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who flew into Rio a few days ago, conceded that the nation’s gold medal chances are at the tail end of the games.
“We must win our first gold medal here. This is the best chance for (badminton ace) Lee Chong Wei to make it,” he told Malaysian media at a press conference after visiting the national contingent at the Games Village on Saturday.
Khairy even shoved aside suggestions by Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar that Malaysia consider a joint-bid with Singapore to host the Olympics in future.
He said bidding for the Olympics is fine but it should only be done when our athletes are winning gold medals on a consistent basis.
Khairy will be in Rio until the badminton finals on August 20, a day before Rio 2016 draws to a close and hands over the Olympic torch to Tokyo to host the Games in 2020.
A total 28 sports is contested at the Olympics this time around with some 11,000 athletes competing.
Badminton Mixed Doubles Finals – Gold medal match: 11.30pm (Malaysian time) August 17, 2016