KUALA LUMPUR: All the signs for Olympic glory in London are there going by the charismatic attitude and attire of Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Yesterday, Ismail apologised twice during the elaborate launch of the Road to London programme at Bukit Jalil.
He said sorry for turning up 45 minutes late for the function and also for wearing a tie with shuttlecock prints — a present from the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
“I am late because the Parliament session took a longer time than I had expected. I also want to apologise for wearing this “badminton” tie today. It is not that I favour them,” said Ismail.
He may have showed up late yesterday but it is no indication that the elusive Olympic gold medal will be late too. Going by the determination of the Government, sports associations and the athletes, glory could very well be achieved in London in 2012.
He may have picked up the tie at random but realistically, badminton is still Malaysia’s best hope to end the country’s agonising wait for an Olympic gold medal.
So far, only badminton has contributed medals at the Olympic Games. In fact, Lee Chong Wei did the country proud by winning the sole silver medal at the last Games in Beijing.
Yesterday, Ismail spoke confidently of his hopes for the 17 athletes chosen from the three sports — badminton, cycling and archery — to end the country’s gold drought.
“We want to do better than the last Games. Winning one silver and one bronze will be an achievement at the next Games,” said Ismail.
“But we have set high expectations on these three sports. And we want this group of athletes to bring back the country’s first gold medal from London,” he said to the thunderous applause of everyone at the Komanwel Hall.
He also challenged the other sports to win the right to be included in the Road to London programme.
“We hope that the other sports will be inspired to be in the same league as these three sports (badminton, cycling and archery). They have the next two years to try and qualify and show that they have the potential to win medals at the Olympics,” he said.
He added that there would be more promotion campaign for the Road to London programme to garner the support and confidence of the public.
Badminton: Lee Chong Wei, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif, Wong Mew Choo, Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty
Cycling: Mohd Azizul Hasni Awang, Josiah Ng, Mohd Rizal Tisin, Junaidi Mohd Nasir, Mohd Edrus Yunos
Archery: Cheng Chu Sian, Mohd Marbawi Sulaiman, Wan Mohd Khalmizam Wan Abdul Aziz, Mohd Nazrin Aizat Mat Nasir.