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The data crunching behind the SEA Games success

 

Dato Sieh Kok Chi is a name synonym to sports in Malaysia. Below is the analysis that the former secretary of the Olympic Council of Malaysia painstakingly prepared just after the 2015 Games to help pave the way for Malaysia’s overall success at the 2017 SEA Games.

 

 

An Analysis of the Medal Winning Patterns of 28th SEA Games to Shortlist the Sports & Events of the 29th SEA Games

Background

Malaysia will be hosting the 29th SEA Games in 2017. Like all SEA hosts, it is important for sports development that the Host County does well and achieve its best results in terms of medal tally.  Malaysia achieved very good results in all the five SEAP and SEA Games hosted in 1965, 1971, 1977, 1989 and 2001, especially in the last two SEA Games, when Malaysia finished in second position in 1989 with 67 gold medals and in first position with 111 gold medals. As such, come 2017, Malaysia should repeat the achievement of 2001 by finishing in first position in the gold tally.

Methodology

The study to select the best sports and events for inclusion in the 29th SEA Games 2017, in order to achieve the objective of Malaysia finishing in first position is based on the following methodology:

  • The medal tally of the five countries that finished in the first five positions.
  • Removing 5 sports from the 28th SEA Games programme that Malaysia did not win any gold or silver medals.  Theses sports are Canoe, Floorball, Rowing, Softball and Traditional Boat Race. The removable of the above 5 sports have no effect on Malaysia’s  gold medal tally, as Malaysia did not win any gold medal. On the other hand, the gold medal tally of Thailand was reduced by 11. Please see Table T2 below.
  • Removing 5 disciplines from the 28th SEA Games programme that Malaysia did not win any gold medals. Theses disciplines are Precision Shooting, Chinlone, Billiards/Pools, Keel Boat and Sanda.  The removable of the above 5 disciplines have no effect on Malaysia’s gold medal tally, as Malaysia did not win any gold medal. On the other hand, the gold medal tally of Thailand was reduced by 4. Please see Table T3 below.
  • Removing some events from 5 sports from the 28th SEA Games programme that Malaysia did not win any gold medals. The 5 sports are Petaque, Squash Jumbo, Fencing Team events, Pomsae and Wushu. The removable of the events of the above 5 sports have no effect on Malaysia’s  gold medal tally, as Malaysia did not win any gold medal. On the other hand, the gold medal tally of Thailand was reduced by 4.  Please see Table T4 below.
  • Addition of 7 sports with 54 events, that were not in the Singapore 28th SEA Games. These are Bodybuilding, Cricket, Ice Hockey, Ice Skating, Karate, Lawn Bowls, and Weightlifting. Please see Table T5 below. Silver and bronze medals have not be included.
  • Addition of events in 4 existing sports, such as Track Cycling, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Squash and Women’s Football. Please see T6 below. Silver and bronze medals have not be included.
  • Expect between 10% to 15% improvements in the gold medal tally as a result of being the Host County. Please see T7 below.
  • From the analysis below, it is clear that Malaysia can finish at the top of the medal tally with around 108 gold medals in 2017.

(Click on the link below to view the analysis chart)

28th SEA Games Medals Tally by Country and by Sport

Findings

From the above study, the following should be implemented for the 29th SEA Games 2017.

  • Removing 5 sports from the 28th SEA Games programme that Malaysia did not win any gold or silver medals.  Theses sports are Canoe, Floorball, Rowing, Softball and Traditional Boat Race, have not won any gold or silver medals in the last 20 years (Floorball was introduced in Singapore for the first time). By so doing, a total of 47 gold medals have been removed, out of which Malaysia did not win a single gold medal. The remaining 31 sports in the 28th SEA Games 2015 programme have been retained in the 29th SEA Games 2017 programme.
  • Removing 5 disciplines from the 28th SEA Games programme that Malaysia did not win any gold medals. Theses disciplines are Precision Shooting, Chinlone, Billiards/Pools/Carom (retain Snooker), Keel Boat and Sanda. By so doing, a total of 18 gold medals have been removed, out of which Malaysia did not win a single gold medal.
  • Reducing some events from 5 sports from the 28th SEA Games programme that Malaysia did not win any gold medals. The events are in Petaque, Squash Jumbo, Fencing Team events, Pomsae and Wushu. In total between 10 to 20 events could be removed by the respective NSAs of the five sports.
  • Addition of 7 sports with 54 events, that were not in the Singapore 28th SEA Games. These are Bodybuilding, Cricket, Ice Hockey, Ice Skating, Karate, Lawn Bowls, and Weightlifting. Malaysia is strong in these 7 sports and the chances of winning many gold medals are very good.
  • Addition of events in 4 existing sports, such as Track Cycling, Rhythmic Gymnastics, and Squash.  A total of 23 events or gold medals could be added. Out of these 23 events, Malaysia has the potential of winning around 18 gold medals.
  • There are a number of sports in the 28th SEA Games 2013 that did not win any gold or silver medals, but have not been removed from the 29th SEA Games programme, because these sports are the 2016 Olympic Games Programme sports.  These sports are Boxing, Football, Golf, Judo, Tennis and Volleyball and the discipline of Water Polo.  These sports will have to improve their performance in the 29th SEA Games 2017 to justify their retention in the 29th SEA Games 2017.
  • Three sports, namely Athletics with 46 gold medals, Swimming with 38 medals, and Shooting with 22 gold medals. Unfortunately, in Singapore, Malaysia only managed a total of 8 gold medals out of the total of 106 gold medals, With such a large number of gold medals available to be won, it is imperative that these 3 sports improve on their performance in 2017 by doubling the number of gold medals won in Singapore from 8 gold medals in 2015 to at least 16 gold medals in 2017.
  • For the other sports not specifically mentioned, efforts must also be made to improve on their 28th SEA Games performance as much as possible.
  • In the selection of events of each sport, except for the sports listed in Table T4, there is no real necessity to reduce the events in the other sports, except the NSAs concerned feel there is a need to do so.  If the 29th SEA Games sports and events follow quite closely to that of the 28th SEA Games, there should not be any unhappiness on the part of the other 10 SEA Games member NOCs.

Conclusion

From the above findings, it is obvious that the Thai Contingent is the strongest rival to Malaysia’s target of finishing as Champion of the 29th SEA Games.  However, by removing sports and events that the Thai Contingent are very strong and Malaysia is weak, the overall strength of the Thai Contingent will be greatly reduced.  This strategy is fair as the 5 sports removed are not really popular or strong sports in the SEA Region.

Singapore was confident they would win many gold medals in the three water sports, namely Canoe, Rowing and Traditional Boat Race, and included many events in each of the three sports. The number of events in Canoe was 17, Rowing was 18 and Traditional Boat Race was 8.  The breakdown of the winners of the total 43 gold medals was Indonesia won 13 gold medals, Thailand won 11 gold medals, Vietnam won 11 gold medals, and Singapore 7 medals.  Thus by removing the above three sports, Malaysia has reduced the gold medal tally of the three strongest NOCs by at least 10%, without any loss in Malaysia’s gold medal tally. In addition, Singapore added three other not so popular disciplines such as Keelboat (4 events), Chinlone (4 events), and Precision Shooting (4 events), where Singapore won 3 gold medals out of 12 events.

The reduction of events of the five identified sports will also have a strong influence on Malaysia being the overall champion in 2017.  Take for example the sport of Petanque.  The Olympic Council of Malaysia introduced the sport in the 21st SEA Games held in Kuala Lumpur in 2001, with 6 events. The objective of including Petanque was to provide an opportunity for the small NOCs, namely Cambodia and Laos to win some medals, in the sport that they are good in. From the 21st SEA Games to the 23rd SEA Games, there were only 6 events. In 2007, the number of events was increased from 6 to 9 by Thailand the host of the 24th SEA Games in Korat. Laos then increase the events from 9 to 11, when they hosted the 25th SEA Games in 2009. Jakarta the host of the 26th SEA Games 2011, brought the number of events back to 6.  Myanmar, the host of the 2013 SEA Games, for no reasons whatsoever, increased the number of events back to 11. In 2015 Singapore had 10 events in the Petanque programme. From the above example, it is obvious that there are no clear rules on the number of events in most, if not all the minor sports.  What was meant to be a ‘goodwill’ sport for universality, was turned into a means of increasing the medal tally, not of the smaller and weaker NOCs, but of the stronger NOCs.

From the above analysis, Singapore made several fundamental mistakes, by including many unnecessary events for Petanque, Traditional Boat Race, Precision Shooting, etc. If Singapore had paid more attention on the inclusion of events in certain non main-line sports, they could well have ended up as champion in the 28th SEA Games. Malaysia should not repeat the mistakes of Singapore.

In accordance with past practice, as the host, Malaysia has the right to include some sports and events to make the 29th SEA Games more attractive to the host country. It is proposed to include additional 7 sports to replace the 5 sports that have been dropped. These 7 new sports are Bodybuilding, Cricket, Ice Hockey, Ice Skating, Karate, Lawn Bowls and Weightlifting.  In addition, it is proposed to include  additional events for the Track Cycling, Rhythmic Gymnastics, and Squash. With the above additions, Malaysia will definitely win more gold medals.

Besides Thailand and Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam can be strong rivals as well.  Indonesia can be a threat as their athletes will be preparing for the 18th Asian Games to be held in Jakarta/Palembang in 2018, a year after the 29th SEA Games 2017. Vietnam will be less of a threat as Vietnam will not be participating in a number of sports which are new to them.

If the 29th SEA Games programme were to use the above findings to determine the sports and events, the chances of Malaysia finishing at the top of the gold medal tally will be good.

DATO’ SIEH KOK CHI

 

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