Malaysia still tops gold medal tally, Vietnam leaps to 2nd

KUALA LUMPUR, 24 Aug 2017: 

Malaysia’s mission to strike 111 gold in the 29th SEA Games is nearing the half way mark as their count rose by 10 yesterday for a comfortable haul of 50 at the top of the medals board.

With still a week of competition left and the pace increasingly hotter with most of the 38 sports already in full swing, the mood is running high that the homesters will meet the target to repeat their 2001 Games achievement.

Vietnam flexed their muscles in athletics, gymnastics and karate to strike a dozen to beef up their tally to 28  and overtake Singapore for second spot by just one gold.

Thailand, 2015 overall champions, are lying fourth with 16, Indonesia breathing close with 15 followed by the Philippines and Myanmar with 10 and four accordingly.

The national football team continued their unbeaten run, ousting Laos 3-1 to top Group A and will await the Group B deciding matches today to know their semifinal opponents – a toss of Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

A troubled hamstring denied Khairul Hafiz Jantan the chance of a sprint double in his Games debut but his teammates did well to rein in three.

Strongman Jackie Wong Siew Cheer hurled the hammer to a new Games record before Elina Goh and Muhammad Hakimi Ismail came through by winning the women’s 10km walk and men’s triple jump.

The squash team, eyeing a bounty of seven, opened with two gold from the men’s and women’s doubles. The karate team also went two up, increasing their gold haul to five so far, from Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan bagging the gold in the women’s Kumite below 55k and R. Sharmendran in the Kumite below  75kg.

Chipping in a gold each were swimmer Welson Sim, gymnast queen Farah Ann Abdul Hadi and the first women’s gold in tenpin bowling from trio Esther Cheah, Shalin Zukifli and Sin Li Jane.

Welson Sim denied Singapore a clean sweep of six finals at the National Aquatic Centre. He splashed to his second Games record and gold timing 1:47.49s in the 200m after a hard fought battle over previous winner Hoang Quy Phuoc of Vietnam – who clocked 1:48.07s for the silver, also inside his own Games record of 1:48.96s posted in Singapore.

“This is the most painful, most memorable race of my swimming career, the first 100m was really fast,” said Sim who threw all he had into the final lap, a day after defending the 400m freestyle – also in record time.

Strapping Wong gave himself a belated birthday gift with the hammer throw gold and roared with delight as his fourth throw soared over the SEA Games mark to a record 65.90m in his tussle against Thailand’s silver placed Kittipong Boonmawan with 65.49m.

In winning the event for Malaysia after 16 years, the Sarawakian, who turned 25 on July 4, rewrote his own national record three times this year, his best was 65.34m before this.

“I am proud with my performance today as I not only won the gold, I even broke the championship record in my own country after being disappointed three times. I wish to say thank you to my family too who had come a long way as well as the supporters at the stadium,” said Wong who wants to win a medal in the Commonwealth Games next year.

Farah Ann Abdul Hadi was a class of her own in retaining the women’s individual floor gold with 13.45 points – leaving Filipina Kaitlin Cera De Guzman and Indonesian Rifda Irfanaluthfi  to settle for the silver and bronze.

Rifda was declared the gold winner in the balance beam with 13.125 points following a protest over the scoring by Indonesia.  Malaysia’s Tan Ing Yueh was named the initial winner with 13.1 points over the Indonesian on 13.025 points.

In badminton, two gold dangle before the men’s and women’s national teams which have advanced into the finals tomorrow.   Malaysia will face defending champions Indonesia in the men’s final while the women’s team title is a fight between Malaysia and defending champions Singapore gold medallist Thailand.

In squash,  Rachel Arnold and Andrea Lee defeated compatriots Chan Yiwen and Naziah Hanis 11-4, 11-10 in the women’s doubles final while Mohammad Syafid Mohd Kamal and Ng Eain Yow outclassed Singapore’s Pang Ka Hoe and Timothy Leon 11-3, 11-4 in the men’s.

Another squash gold is assured tomorrow from the all-Malaysia mixed final between Ryan Neville Pasqual and Andrea squaring off against Sanjay Singh Chal and S. Sivasangari.

Malaysia are on track to emerge as overall winners at the 29th Kuala Lumpur SEA Games as the national contingent has collected almost 50% of the targeted   111 gold medals, says Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin.

In a press conference after the medal presentation ceremony for the men’s triple jump, Khairy said KL2017 had witnessed spectacular performances especially from the next generation of athletes.

“We are currently on track to obtain 111 gold medals. The spirit of the contingent is amazing and the support from the fans is spectacular. However, the games are not all about gold medals. It is about the potential and future of sports,” he said adding that attention should also be given to emerging young athletes.

Khairy also congratulated men’s triple jump gold medalist, Muhammad Hakimi Ismail, swimmer, Welson Wee Shen Sim for the men’s 200m freestyle gold and Saidatul Husniah Husniah who secured the silver in the women’s 200m race.

“It is sweet victory for Hakimi as he had just recovered from an injury. As for Saidatul, I believe she has bigger potential in the future. Congratulations.”

Hakimi set a new Sea Games record and national record with 16.77m beating his own record at the 2015 Singapore SEA Games of 16.76m while Welson had splashed to a new SEA Games record in the men’s 200m freestyle in 1:47.79s .

Citing Singapore star swimmer, Joseph Schooling as an example, Khairy said that the swimmer only emerged on the international arena not long ago and managed to win the gold medal in the Rio Olympics, beating swimming legend Michael Phelps.

 “Welson has a bigger potential in future. He has a long way to go. So do our young athletes like Khairul Hafiz Jantan who is only 19.”

Khairul Hafiz , dubbed as Speedy Jantan failed to win any medals in the 200m race after finishing fourth in the race behind his teammate, G. Aravin Thevar.

MALAYSIA 50 37 32 119
VIETNAM 28 20 23 71
SINGAPORE 27 23 24 74
THAILAND 16 29 35 80
INDONESIA 15 17 33 65
PHILIPPINES 10 15 19 44
MYANMAR 4 5 8 17
BRUNEI 0 1 5 6
LAOS 0 1 1 2
CAMBODIA 0 0 5 5

– Bernama

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