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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 (Bernama) -- Heaping praises on Malaysia's squash queen Datuk Nicol Ann David, the prime minister has issued a challenge to Malaysian athletes bound for the Beijing Olympics:

Return home with a gold medal!

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reasoned that while children aged eight or nine could bring glory to the country by winning three to four gold medals at the Formula Powerboat Championship in Italy recently, there was no reason why older sportsmen and sportswomen who were in their prime could not emulate that feat.

"The cemerlang (excellence), gemilang (glory) and terbilang (distinction) will be at the Olympics. That is what I want to see...we winning a gold medal.

"We have got silver previously, through badminton where we lost to the Indonesians," he said when fielding a question at the Malaysian Student Leaders Summit here, Saturday.

On the same note, he said Malaysia was once world champions in badminton, winning the Thomas Cup on a regular basis but currently, the situation had changed where the national team was finding it difficult to wrest the coveted cup in badminton.

"The real sport in which we are terbilang is squash, through our own Nicol David. She is not only terbilang but also cemerlang and gemilang. We need to keep on raising our standards," he said of the world number one woman squash player.