Malaysian juggernauts in hunt for gold

Malaysian athletes were unstoppable when they resumed their hunt for gold on Day 3 of the 29th SEA Games, grabbing another 11 by late afternoon with a smashing display of three gold from the gymnastics and two from wushu.

The hosts maintained a stranglehold on the medals board with 35 gold, 23 silver and 16 bronze, leaving Singapore a distant second with 15, Indonesia and Vietnam 10, Thailand seven, the Philippines six and Myanmar three.

SEA GamesMalaysia also opened their bid in athletics with Muhammad Irfan Shamsuddin ripping his shirt in delight after retaining the men’s discus gold soon after a host of home sprinters advanced into tonight’s finals led by Khairul Hafiz Jantan who timed the fastest of 10.34s in the 100m semifinals.

Jonathan Nyepa will be joining Khairul for the 9.40pm sprint face-off against defending champion Eric Cray of the Philippines who advanced with 10.58s and previous winner Jirapong Meenapra clocking 10.46s.

National women sprinter Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli and Siti Fatima Mohamad are also through to the women’s showdown where defending champion Shanti Pereira of Singapore showed she is the one to beat after timing her best of 11.73s in the semifinals.

Landing a surprise double gold in the pommel horse were first timer and Sukma champion Tan Fu Jie, and Jeremiah Loo who broke a 10-year drought for the Malaysian men’s team while in the women’s vault, Tan Ing Yueh, Singapore Games silver medal-list, nailed the gold and Tracie Ang, the bronze for Malaysia too.

Malaysia’s last gold in men’s gymnastics was in 2007 Games through Ooi Wei Sian in the horizontal bar and in the previous outing in Singapore, Loo was the only member of the team with a silver medal in the horizontal bar.

In wushu, veteran Loh Jack Chang became the second exponent after Yeap Wai Kin to be a doubles medallist with a classy performance to defend the Taijiquan gold after taking the Taijijian title on Sunday.

Four gold were reined in by the men’s cycling team in the team trial event, the eques- trian team in dressage, woman shooter Alia Sazana Azahari in the 25m pistol and in karate, Celine Lee and Lim Chee Wei took the women’s and men’s kata.

Alia had an emotional day in defending the gold in a Games record of 31 points as her mother and siblings had come all the way from Terengganu to surprise her at the national range in Subang.

“First of all, I would like to thank Allah SWT for giving me a blessed day with fair weather and secondly to my mother, siblings and supporters from Terengganu as well as my teammates, Joseline Cheah and Bibiana Ng who were most helpful to me during training,” she said.

The archery team closed their campaign with a silver in the recurve mixed team through Khairul Anuar Mohamad and Nur Aliya Ghapar. Overall, they won five gold — three from compound and two from recurve events — as well as three silver and two bronze. — Bernama

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