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RM200,000 more for Rio Olympic stars - PM Najib

RM200,000 more for Rio Olympic stars - PM Najib
Najib addressing the crowd at the KLIA today. - Astro AWANI
SEPANG: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today announced an additional RM200,000 reward for all silver and bronze medal winners at the just concluded Rio Olympics.

The incentive is on top of the RM300,000 and RM100,000 announced by the government before the Rio Games for silver and bronze winners respectively.

"Although the much coveted gold medal still eludes us, the national contingent produced the best ever results in Malaysian Olympics history.

"God willing, at the next Olympics in Tokyo, the much sought after gold medal will be in Malaysia's hands," he said at the grand ceremony to welcome home the Malaysian contingent to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games at the Bunga Raya Complex, KLIA, here.
Also present were his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Cabinet ministers.

READ: Welcome home, national heroes!
More than 3,000 Malaysian sports fans thronged the complex to welcome home the Olympics "wira" and "wirawati" (heroes and heroines).

In Rio, the national contingent clinched four silver and a bronze, the best ever result since Malaysia first joined the prestigious Games in 1956.

Tokyo will next host the Olympics in 2020.

The seven "wira" and "wirawati" who brought glory for Malaysia in badminton and diving by winning silver medals received flower bouquets from Najib and wife as a mark of appreciation.

Najib said he hoped that the success in Rio would be a platform to launch Malaysia to bigger things in the future.

"The success in Rio should not stop here. Use Rio to achieve greater success," he said.

He added that a 'post-mortem' would be conducted by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar and chef-de-mission Tan Sri Mohamed Al-Amin Abdul Majid to plan on how to give the necessary "injection" to spur Malaysian sports to greater heights.

The prime minister called on national athletes to be totally dedicated to their chosen sport, saying this was the foundation to achieve glory on the world stage as had been shown by top athletes like Usain Bolt.

To succeed, he said, each athlete must have very high ambition, apart from the support of good coaches, sports associations, the government, private sector and all Malaysians.

Najib also shared with those in the crowded lobby of the complex his heart-stopping moments when watching the live telecast of the badminton men's singles final in the Rio Games between Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Cheng Long of China at Dataran Putrajaya on Saturday.

"The heart-stopping moments could be felt until the last minute...and I am grateful that my heart is still strong.

"I don't know how to describe how close we were to the gold medal...although they (Chong Wei and men's doubles pair Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong) were not successful, we were that close to a win, maybe that's what I can say," he said to loud applause from the audience.

The Prime Minister also indicated his wish to see the national shuttlers and world number one badminton player Chong Wei continue playing for the country.

"Lee Chong Wei has about two or three years to play and through the 'Malaysia Boleh' (Malaysia Can) spirit, we will achieve greater success in the future," he said.

V Shem-Wee Kiong had reached match point in the men's doubles final but were edged out by the crack pair of Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan of China.

The national mixed doubles pair of Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying also missed out on the gold when they lost to Ahmad Tontowi and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia in the final.

Pandelela Rinong/Cheong Jun Hoong delivered the other silver in the 10m synchronised platform event while the bronze was won by "Pocket Rocketman" Mohd Azizulhasni Awang in the men's keirin.