145 golds for Merdeka joy
> Best ever SEA Games campaign by the Malaysian contingent
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian athletes fought with grit to the very end to wrap up their best ever SEA Games to emerge overall champions and presented a euphoric gift of 145 gold medals to the nation, which celebrates its 60th anniversary today.
In the final push yesterday, Malaysia whacked five of the last seven golds at stake – two from diving as expected and three from the ice skating – to bring the curtains down on 12 days of competition.
This is the second time Malaysia has topped the Games after their first in 2001 when they won 111 golds on home soil. Setting a similar target this time and to its utter delight, the national athletes responded with high fighting spirit and comradeship to surpass the mark.
Taking top spot on the medals board with 145 golds, 92 silvers and 86 bronzes, the host nation towers over Thailand, which is going home with 72 golds including the prized men’s football title for the third time in a row, a sharp drop from their 95-gold domination of the Singapore Games two years ago.
Vietnam finished third by a whisker with 58 golds, just one ahead of Singapore, which is followed by Indonesia with 38, the Philippines 24, Myanmar seven, Cambodia three and Laos two. Rounding up the 11 participating nations are Brunei, which has five silvers and eight bronzes and Timor-Leste with three bronzes.
National divers signed off with the men’s and women’s titles in synchronised 10m platform to sweep all 13 gold offered in the sport at the National Aquatic Centre.
Leong Mun Yee and Traisy Vivien Tukiet faced no threat at all in retaining the women’s gold while in the men’s event, promising 16year-old Jellson Jabillin and Hanis Nazirul Jaya Surya did not squander the opportunity in nailing the men’s title for their first time.
The men’s gold was won two years ago by the more experienced Ooi Tze Liang and Chew Yiwei, who are still in the team but are taking a back seat to give the youngsters a chance to prove themselves.
In the hotly contested final day of speed skating, Malaysia’s 500m gold medallist Anya Chong kept her cool to win a second Games medal from the 1,000m short track event with Ashley Chin taking the bronze.
The two girls came back to pick up a fourth gold medal for Malaysia in the 3,000m relay with Nor Marissa Ahmad Lokman and See Wan Ni in tow before the men’s team took the 3,000m relay gold.
The first gold was won by figure skater Julian Yee.
In weightlifting, Malaysia’s best show was a silver from Mohamad Fazrul Azrie in the men’s 85kg with a 323kg total including 182kg in the clean and jerk that smashed his own national record of 181kg set in May this year.
The gold was won by Thailand’s Pornchai Lobsi with 337kg and the bronze went to Vietnamese Hoang Tan Tai on 322kg.
The next Games will be hosted by the Philippines. — Bernama