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Malaysia rolls out red carpet for SEAG

Malaysia is pulling all the stops in making the hosting of the 29th Southeast Asian Games a rousing success as 2017 will mark the 60th year of the country’s independence.

Kumaran Nadaraja, who serves as the principal assistant secretary of the Ministry Youth and Sport, told scribes yesterday during the press conference for tomorrow’s SEAG Baton Run that Malaysia “our ambition is to become champion to bring joy to the people.”

The SEAG will kick off on Aug. 19 and will end on the 31st, which falls on Malaysia’s independence from British rule, noted Nadaraja, adding that Malaysia’s budget for the SEAG is a staggering 500 million Ringgit (P5.6 billon).

The last time Malaysia hosted in 2001, it also captured the overall crown and in 2017, the target is to reign supreme again as it plans to field its biggest ever contingent of 920 athletes who will battle in 405 events from 38 sports.

Meanwhile, Nadaraja said the Philippines is all set to stage the Rising Together Baton Run tomorrow with Malacañang as the kickoff and the CCP as the final stop.

The Baton Run started last week in Brunei and the Philippines will have its turn with Rio Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz serving as one of the runners during the 7.7-kilometer run that will mainly use the Roxas Boulevard as the main stage.

Also getting the opportunity to carry the baton include fellow Rio Olympians Mary Joy Tabalof marathon and Marestella Torres of long jump, Rio Paralympics bronze medal winner Josephine Medina, actor-politician-sportsman Richard Gomez and a member of the Gilas basketball team.

Because of the event, roads adjacent to Roxas Boulevard in the Ermita and Malate areas, will be closed to traffic from 5 am to 8 am.