Singapore: 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore delivered excellent performances from the participating nation athletes. As many as eleven Games Records (GR), 42 National Records (NR), three Southeast Asian Records, and 15 National Junior Records were improved during the six-day (6-12 June) regional multi-sports event held at a new 55,000 capacity modern national stadium.
Most notable performances came from Maria Natalia Londa, Asian Games champion from Indonesia. ; Londa not only defended her titles in long and triple jump but also set new National record and Asian leading mark in the Long jump with distances of 6.70m.
Londa was thoroughly challenged by Vietnam’s Bui Thi Thu Thao who surprised the 24-year-old Indonesian with an opening jump of 6.58m, which is better than her winning mark (6.55m) in Incheon Asiad. Thu Thao then extended the lead to 6.60m, but it was immediately replied by Londa with an impressive record jump of 6.70m, which also secured both gold medal and tickets for 2015 IAAF World championships at Beijing and Rio Summer Olympics next year. "I am thrilled with my success to qualify for my first Olympics, all my hard work in training is paying off, to achieve something in life, you must have true passion, dedication and motivation,” she told TheStar.
But Thu Thao’s fighting spirit was not terminated. Her next two jumps topped 6.80m, but her foot left visible marks on plasticine that indicates foul. She finally landed at 6.65m in last jump to improve her NR distance and took silver medal home. Philippines’ five-time SEA Games champion Marestella Torres took bronze in 6.41m.
Filipino-American (Phil-Am) Athletes Raise the Norm
Phil-Am athletes contributed significantly to the Philippines’ medal collection. In men’s 100m, Eric Cray torched his rivals to become the sprint king of the games. He clocked a time of 10.25s (0.0) to renew his NR (10.28s) from the heats.
Indonesia’s Yaspi Boby and Iswandi took silver and bronze, respectively in a dead heat at 10.45s. Cray, the defending 400m hurdles champion came Singapore with a seasonal best of 10.33s that he set twice recently to erase Ralph Waldy’s Philippines NR by 0.12s.
Already top-ten on World’s season list, the Texas-based athlete would retain his gold at 400m hurdles easily. He set games record of 49.40s after being urged by Vietnam’s Quach Cong Lich who clocked 50.29s, improving national record over 1.2 seconds.
The Olongapo-born Cray will be representing the Philippines at 400m hurdles in Beijing World Championships in August.
Meanwhile, Kayla Richardson, 17, the Philippines’ California-born edged Thailand's Tassaporn Wannakit right on the finish line to win the women’s 100m final. Both shared an identical time of 11.76s (-0.4).
Fellow Phil-Am Caleb Stuart smashed Tantipong Phatchaiya’s hammer GR by over three metres with his third throw of 65.63m, which dethroned the Thai Phetchaiya to second with 62.12m throw. Malaysia’s Jackie Wong threw 61.18m for bronze.
Nguyen Thi Huyen of Vietnam set leading Asian performancei n 400m
Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Huyen is the only athlete in the games who have met the qualifying standard for both World championships and Olympics in two individual events.
She first destroyed GR at 400m hurdles with 56.15s, and then setting Asia’s leading performance in 400m with 52.00s to secure the gold from a compatriot’s Asian Games silver medallist Quach Thi Lan (52.52s). She finally anchored the 4x400m quartet to another gold medal, therefore a hattrick, with an Asian lead time of 3:31.46s, which is a new GR.
"Success never comes easily, sweet results come after great effort and I will have to try harder in the future," Huyen said who is being coached by Vu Ngoc Loi.
Thailand's dominance continues
Thailand’s Jamras Rittidet successively amassed his fourth gold at 110m hurdles while breaking GR with 13.69s (+0.2). It was again defeating Malaysia’s Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian (13.97s).
In women’s 100m hurdles, Rittidet’s training partner and compatriot Wallapa Punsongneun registered 13.56s to regain the gold medal from Indonesia’s 36-year-old Dedeh Erawati, who recorded 13.61s.
Having thrown over 60 metres this season, Thailand’s Subenrat Insaeng outclassed silver medallist by over 12 metres with her GR throw of 59.56m to retain her discus throw title for three consecutive time.
Thailand team dominated the men’s relays and claimed gold medals from both 4x100m (38.99s) and 4x400m (3:06.81s), but also women’s 4x100m (44.27s). Except Thailand, all other teams in men’s 4x100m broke the NRs, with Singapore (39.24s) and Indonesia (39.32s) that set for silver and bronze, respectively. This was followed by Malaysia (39.67s), Brunei (40.95s), and Laos (41.94s).
According to Malaysian qualifying standard (16.44m), Hakimi Ismail would not make it to the games. Registering a new NR and GR of 16.76m, he remained unbeaten in the men’s triple jump, beating Thailand’s Warunyu Kongnil (16.20m) and Vietnam’s former champion Nguyen Van Hung (15.92m) who upsets Hakimi with last jump of 16.67m in last edition.
Unheralded Thai Kunanon Sukkaew steals the gold from Vietnam’s Quach Cong Lich on the last metres, 46.00s over 46.02s. Both improved their previous bests from 46.98s and 46.99s, respectively.
Vietnam’s Duong Van Thai won double individual gold from men’s 800m (1:51.43) and 1500m (3:47.04s). Teammate Do Thi Thao also won in women’s 800m (2:05.22s) and 1500m (4:28.39s). Indonesia’s “wonder girl” Triyaningsih also achieved similar deed from women’s 5000m (16:18.06s) and 10,000m (33:44.53s), now accumulates a total of 10 gold medals in SEA Games.
Young star shines
Veronica Shanti Pereira set a good example of diligence and ‘achieve the impossible’. The 19-year-old Singaporean delighted the fans with a stunning victory in women’s 200m in a new NR of 23.60s. She beats pre-race favourite Kayla Richardson in second place (23.71s) who arrived SEA Games with a 23.45w performance.
Vietnam’s Le Trong Hinh, 19, achieved similar feat in men’s 200m. He established a NR of 20.89s to grab gold from Thailand’s Jaran Sathoengram (21.05s) and defending champion Jirapong Meenapra (21.13s).
Malaysia’s Irfan Shamsuddin, 19, hurled the discus to a distance of 56.62m to retain his gold medal, and defeated Thailand’s Narong Benjaroon who threw 52.59m in second.
Thailand’s Porranot Purahong, 19, sets a new GR of 5.30m for gold medal in men’s pole vault. Philippines’ Ernest John Obiena, also 19, took silver after failing to clear the same height in which he managed to clear last month in Busan.
In women’s hammer throw, 17-year-old Mingkamon Koomphon broke GR and NR with a distance of 56.57m. Teammate and defending champion Panwat Gimsrang took silver in 55.47m, while 15-year-old Grace Wong of Malaysia took bronze in 53.80m.
Elsewhere, Thailand’s Asian champs silver medallist Supanara Sukhasvasti Ayudhaya regained gold (7.75m) at long jump, teammate Peerachet Jantra retained his javelin gold (75.18), and Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Hue scored 7232 to win decathlon.
Singapore’s Zhang Guirong now acquired seven SEA Games gold as she won shot put in 14.60m, Thailand’s Wanida Boonwan has finally won high jump gold (1.85m) after three consecutive silver, and Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Thanh Phuc won women’s 20km walk in 1:45:20.
All in all, the performances for the gold medallists in at least six events were even better than those by the winners at the Asian championships last week at Wuhan. In addition, compared to last SEA Games edition, the performances of gold medallists were better in 27 events.
Thailand athletics team became the overall champion with a haul of 17 gold, 13 silver, and 9 bronze. Vietnam collected 11+15+8 in second place while Indonesia in third with 7+4+4. The Philippines in fourth with 5+7+9, and followed by Singapore 3+3+3, and Malaysia 3+2+9. The next SEA Games will be held at Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
Jad Adrian Washif for AAA