Malaysia nine golds away from achieving Hanoi SEA Games target

HANOI — The national contingent are just nine gold medals away from achieving their 36-gold target as Day 11 of the 31st SEA Games drew to a close yesterday.

With five days to go before the curtain comes down on the biennial Games on Monday (May 23), local sports fans will surely want to see the national contingent meet the target after a quiet few days.

Malaysia will be hoping to strike gold in several events, like archery, rhythmic gymnastics, criterium cycling, weightlifting and karate.

In yesterday’s action, Malaysian athletes contributed four golds, four silvers and eight bronzes for an overall haul of 27-43-65 to remain in sixth spot in the medal standings. 

The country’s first gold yesterday came courtesy of the men’s golf team of Ervin Chang, Marcus Lim Pang Chuen, K. Rhaasrikanesh and A. Nateeshvar (reserve), thus ending their 21-year gold medal drought.

The women’s golf team of Jeneath Wong and Mirabel Ting Ern Hui did well to deliver a silver medal after losing to favourites Thailand in the final.

The national karate squad shone brightest yesterday when they bagged two gold and two bronze medals.

Debutants H. Sureeya Sankar and C. Shahmalarani kicked their way to the gold medals in the men’s and women’s kumite below 67-kilogramme (kg) and below 55kg categories respectively.

S. Prem Kumar (men’s kumite below 60kg) and Muhammad Aiqal Asmadie (men’s kata individual) chipped in with a bronze medal each.

Over at the pool, youngster Khiew Hoe Yean, with three silver medals already under his belt, created a sensation when he delivered a gold medal for the Malaysian camp in the men’s 200-metre (m) freestyle event.

Other sports which contributed medals for Malaysia yesterday were archery (one silver, three bronzes); shooting (one silver); athletics (one silver, one bronze); and table tennis (two bronzes).

However, nothing went right for the national athletics camp yesterday when Malaysia failed to defend the Southeast Asian sprint king title after Muhammad Azeem Fahmi was disqualified for a false start in the men’s 100m race.

Malaysia had won the blue riband event in two consecutive editions through Khairul Hafiz Jantan in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur and Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi in the Philippines in 2019.

Not only that, Malaysia’s domination in men’s high jump since the 2005 Games also came to an end when Nauraj Singh Randhawa could only bag a silver medal.

The country had previously won the men’s high jump gold medal in every edition of the SEA Games since 1977, except in the 2005 SEA Games in Manila, where Nguyen Duy Bang of Vietnam claimed the top spot.

At the end of the 11th day of the Hanoi SEA Games, hosts Vietnam continue to lead the medal hunt with a haul of 126 golds, 76 silvers and 74 bronzes, followed by Thailand (53-59-80), the Philippines (37-49-65), Singapore (37-39-49) and Indonesia (36-49-49).

Although there are several events with gold medals at stake on Day 12 today (May 19), all eyes will be on the Harimau Muda squad as they take on hosts-cum-defending champions Vietnam in the men’s football semi-finals.