Malaysia's top 5 medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics

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Pandalela Rinong of Malaysia competes in the women's 10m platform diving final at the 2015 SEA Games.
Pandalela Rinong of Malaysia competes in the women's 10m platform diving final at the 2015 SEA Games. (PHOTO: Sajjad Hussai/AFP via Getty Images)

Malaysia had by far its best Olympic medal haul at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, with four silvers and a bronze from three sports. 

Can its athletes replicate or even improve on the medal haul at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics? Here are the five athletes who have the best opportunities at doing so:

Pandalela Rinong (Diving)

A mainstay for the Malaysia national diving team for much of the last decade, Pandalela has grown from strength to strength at the Olympics. 

She won a bronze medal in the women's 10m platform competition at the 2012 London Games - the first Malaysian female athlete to win a medal, and the first Malaysian athlete in a sport other than badminton to do so. In 2016, she teamed up with Cheong Jun Hoong to land the silver medal in the women's synchronised 10m platform event.

Can the 28-year-old take the next step to win gold in Tokyo? She has already clinched a gold medal at this year's World Championships in the women's 10m platform event, and will certainly be among the contenders.

Malaysia's Azizulhasni Awang poses on the podium after winning a bronze medal in the men's keirin cycling event at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Malaysia's Azizulhasni Awang poses on the podium after winning a bronze medal in the men's keirin cycling event at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. (PHOTO: Odd AndersenAFP via Getty Images)

Azizulhasni Awang (Cycling)

The first Malaysian cyclist to win a medal at the Olympics, Azizulhasni followed up his bronze-medal effort in the men's keirin event at the 2016 Rio Games with a stunning gold medal in the same event at the 2017 World Championships in Hong Kong. It was the first time a Malaysian has wore the coveted rainbow jersey - given to the reigning world champion in a cycling discipline.

In Tokyo, Azizulhasni will again be taking part in the men's keirin, a race in which track cyclists sprint for victory following a speed-controlled start behind a pacer. He will also participate in the men's sprint for another shot at a medal.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 14: Khairul Anuar Mohamad of Malaysia competes during the Ready Steady Tokyo - Archery, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event at the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field on July 14, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Malaysian archer Khairul Anuar Mohamad competes during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event. (PHOTO: Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Khairul Anuar Mohamad (Archery)

Entering his third Olympics following appearances at the 2012 and 2016 editions, Khairul Anuar Mohamad will hope to do better than his quarter-final showing in his Games debut in London. 

The signs are looking good this time around, after the veteran archer earned an individual silver medal at the World Archery Championships in Netherlands in 2019. Khairul will also be taking part in the mixed team event with female archer Syaqiera Mashayikh.

Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia in action at the All-England Open men's singles final.
Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia in action at the All-England Open men's singles final. (PHOTO: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)

Lee Zii Jia (Badminton)

Following the retirement of three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei in 2019, Malaysia will be looking to 23-year-old Lee Zii Jia to continue in the footsteps of his predecessor at the Tokyo Olympics.

The younger Lee has grown from strength to strength, following his gold-winning performance at the 2019 SEA Games in Manila. Earlier this year, he captured the prestigious All-England Open men's singles title, beating the higher-ranked Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the final.

However, with a stacked men's singles field at the Tokyo Games, Lee will need to be at his very best to stand a chance at emulating his more illustrious compatriot at the Olympics.

Malaysia's mixed double pair of Chan Peng Soon (left) and Goh Liu Ying at the 2021 Toyota Thailand Open.
Malaysia's mixed double pair of Chan Peng Soon (left) and Goh Liu Ying at the 2021 Toyota Thailand Open. (PHOTO: Shi Tang/Getty Images)

Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying (Badminton)

The veteran mixed doubles pair have been winning trophies and medals for Malaysia for more than a decade, and were at their peak powers when they clinched a silver medal in their event at the Rio Games.

However, the duo's recent form has been patchy, and they have not won a title on the badminton tour circuit since the 2019 New Zealand Open. With the Olympic mixed doubles field stacked with top-tiered duos, Chan and Goh face a tough battle to replicate their success five years ago.

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