After a strong showing in 2013 in Indonesia, Malaysia opted for a smaller squad in Azerbaijan ahead of the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku (May 12-22) to focus on improvement rather than results.
"We decided to send a smaller group of athletes this time around because, right now, we are preparing the Southeast Asian Games which will be held in August in Malaysia", explains Mohd Yaim Yusof of the Malaysian Olympic Committee.
"Most of our athletes are also undergoing intensive training overseas."
The Malaysian team came back from Indonesia with a record 72 medals, including 26 of gold, improving their 2005 result of 16 (5 gold, 5 silver, 6 bronze) for the first ever Muslim Games.
But with just 33 athletes (21 male, 12 female) over seven sports (swimming, athletics, judo, boxing, tennis, karate and weighlifting), the Southeast Asian country "will focus on improving the best performances among our athletes", says M. Yaim Yusof.
Alongside three times Southeast Asian Games winner Elaine Teo (taekwondo), who has become a coach, karate hold the better chances of medals for Malaysia, added Yaim Yusof, especially after Lim Chee Wei's victory at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.