AN archer, a shooter, a judo champion and two swimmers: Five of Myanmar’s seven athletes have finished their events in this year’s Olympics, and though none have secured medals, each has represented well on the world’s brightest stage.
San Yu Htwe, a 30-year-old archer, generated buzz last week by winning two head-to-head matches over higherranked opponents. The shocking surge up the bracket left her face-to-face with world number one Ki Bo Bae on August 18, with a shot at a quarterfinal match-up on the line.
“I was very excited to shoot against a Korean archer, even more an Olympic champion,” she told World Archery. “That’s why my performance today was very bad compared to the other matches. I was too excited.”
The jitters worked to her favour at the start, as she came out with arrows for 9-10 to best Ki’s 8-10. The South Korean champion – and eventual bronze medallist – finished with a nine, however, topping San Yu Htwe’s final attempt by two points and taking a lead she would not lose. Ko Bo Bae would win the match, 6-0.
Despite the defeat, San Yu Htwe’s stunning march through the bracket was the closest any Myanmar athlete has come to winning a medal in this year’s Games.
“I’m happy to get this far and face the Olympic champion,” she said afterward. “It is a great experience. I’ve learnt a lot to be with such high level athletes. This time is my first time. I will go back and practise again to compete again and do my best for Tokyo 2020.”
Judo champion goes down fighting Yan Naing Soe, Myanmar’s ageing judo champion, made it clear going into Rio that the Olympics would be his last. At 38 years old, he was the oldest fighter in his 100kg weight class.
Age, however, would prove no trouble for Yan Naing Soe, who dispatched his first opponent Christopher George from Trinidad and Tobago in the round of 32. The win set him up for a tilt with Karl-Richard Frey of Germany, ranked in the world top three just three years ago. Yan Naing Soe’s run ended there, as Frey won their bout handily. The German would continue to advance, eventually wrestling and losing in the bronze-medal match.
Youngest swimmer in the Games gets his feet wet Thint Myat, the youngest male swimmer at this year’s Games, swam his 100m fly in 1:02:54, a time which left him ranked 4 seconds behind Guyana’s Hannibal Gaskin and 5 seconds behind Mali’s Oumar Toure in their heat of lottery-ticket swimmers. His early exit was to be expected, as the 14-year-old had neither the length nor strength to compete with big-name swimmers such as Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos.
From the sidelines, the young Myanmar swimmer had a chance to see one of the more exciting finishes of this year’s Games. Little-known Singaporean Joseph Schooling shocked the world by besting Phelps by three quarters of a second, winning with a time of 50.39 seconds. For Thint Myat to be competitive on an Olympic stage, he’ll need to trim about 10-11 seconds off his time. As it stands now, he had the slowest time clocked in this year’s 100m fly competition.
Wins her heat, misses semi-final Ei Ei Thet, who swam the 50m freestyle, won her heat against other lottery nation swimmers, posting a time of 30.25 seconds. It would prove good enough to distinguish her from her heat competitors, but not enough to qualify her for the semi-final – where times were in the low- to mid-20 second range.
Pistol shooter just misses final round On August 11, Ye Tun Naung just missed out of the final round in the Men’s 50m pistol competition, finishing with a score of 552 through six rounds.
That was good, but not quite good enough, as the final round cut off ended up at 556.
The exit marks the end of Ye Tun Naung’s Olympic run, as he narrowly missed the 10m pistol finals as well.
Who is left? Runners Swe Li Myint Myint and San Naing will be the last two athletes with a chance to bring Myanmar a medal. San Naing will run the men’s 5-kilometre race on Wednesday, August 17, while Swe Li Myint Myint will run the women’s 800m race that same day.
San Yu Htwe may have lost, but the rising star in Myanmar’s archery said she was “excited” to play against the best.