THE 19th Sukma (Malaysia Games) was officially declared close by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at the Perak Stadium on Saturday night in a joyful atmosphere of warm friendship amongst athletes and officials from the various contingents.
Dr Wan Azizah had earlier presented Sabah archer Eugenius Lo Foh Soon and Terengganu sprinter Azreen Nabila Alias the Best Sportsboy and Best Sportsgirl awards respectively and a cash incentive of RM2,000 each.
She also gave away the overall winners’ trophy to Terengganu, who have invested heavily on the athletes’ preparation, for winning 56 gold, 51 silver and 53 bronze medals.
Among the dignitaries at the closing ceremony were Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Perak Mentri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian, Brunei ambassador to Malaysia Datuk Alaihuddin Mohd Taha, Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman and Penang State Secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus, who was also the Penang chef-de-mission.
Penang finished seventh overall with 32 gold, 30 silver and 31 bronze medals. Behind champions Terengganu were Federal Territories (52-38-50), Selangor (47-68-67), Sarawak (42-36-60) and Perak (37-50-55), Pahang (33-20-30), Penang (32-30-31), Sabah (32-28-46), , Johor (29-34-37), Kedah (19-20-29), Melaka (18-18-18), Negri Sembilan (13-18-43), Perlis (12-7-13), Kelantan (6-7-13) and Brunei (0-1-3).
Although Penang did not meet their targets of 36 golds and a fifth overall placing, Farizan and Penang State Youth and Sports Committee chairman Soon Lip Chee were generally satisfied that the team collected more medals than the last Sukma in Sarawak two years ago.
Both Farizan and Soon met the swimming team, medical personnel and secretariat officials on Saturday morning at Hotel Excelsior to thank them for their services and contribution.
Eugenius, 17, starred with four golds by winning the men’s individual compound and three distances – 30m, 50m and 70m at the Universiti Teknologi Petronas in Tronoh. He also won a silver in the 90m distance. En route to winning the golds, the Sabahan broke the 30m and 70m distance events with 351 points and 349 points respectively.
Azreen, an 18-year-old from Setiu, won the sprint double. She smashed the 10-year-old Games record in the 100m with a time of 11.8s, erasing the old mark by 0.01s set by Siti Fatimah Mohamed of Johor in 2008. She also won the 200m with a personal best of 24.76s and powered the Terengganu 4x100m relay team to victory.
About 12,000 athletes and officials from 13 states, Federal Territories and Brunei took part in the 19th Sukma which started on Sept 11.
While many of them had left for their respective states after completing their events, the several thousands who remained and took part in the closing ceremony celebrated with fun and a tremendous sense of camaraderie.
After speeches by Ahmad Faizal and Dr Wan Azizah, the Sukma flag was then lowered and passed on to Johor, the next hosts in 2020.
Ahmad Faizal congratulated the Perak team for achieving their best result in Sukma and also singled out the men’s football team for winning the gold medal again. He also commended Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was a former Youth and Sports Minister, for the growth of Sukma.
Wan Azizah, in her speech, expressed hopes that new talents would emerge when Johor host the next Sukma. She also called on the athletes to prepare themselves mentally so that they can challenge for honours in Asia and the world.
During showtime, Johor, represented by dancers from Yayasan Warisan Johor, gave a vibrant performance.
Then, Perak, who first hosted Sukma in 1994, put up an entertaining cultural show.
In the midst of all the dances, fireworks lit up the night sky before the celebration came to a memorable conclusion.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis & Nur Afiqah Zainudi and courtesy of Penang State Sports Council