Vietnam’s track athletes pulled off a stunning display at the Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines on Sunday evening, bagging five out of the six individual golds on offer.
The hosts of the next SEA Games in 2021 shot up the medal table to 65 golds, level with Indonesia in second, although they were well off the host nation’s haul of 111 with just two more days of competition to go.
Vietnam’s 1,500m runners set the pace at the brand new 20,000-seater athletics stadium in the main Games hub at Clark, with Nguyen Thi Oanh winning the women’s race in 4min 17.31sec and Duong Van Thai taking gold in the men’s final in a time of 4min 06.63sec.
Thailand’s Jirasak Pakebuangoen (R) attempts a block against Myanmar’s Aung Myo Naing during the sepak takraw match at the SEA Games
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There was another double in the 400m as Nguyen Thi Huyen won the women’s final and Tran Nhat Hoang clinched the men’s gold by just 0.1 seconds in a time of 46.56 seconds.
And Le Tu Chinh defended her 2017 100m title, beating Filipina sprinter Kristina Marie Knott in a reversal of Saturday night’s 200m result.
In the nearby aquatics centre Singapore had another dominant evening, with golds in the women’s 50m freestyle and 4 x 100m medley relay, while the men’s team won the 50m breaststroke and 100m freestyle events. Vietnam won both men’s and women’s 400m individual medleys.
Vietnam also secured the gold in the women’s football on Sunday evening after beating Thailand 1-0 with an extra-time goal in Manila.
Earlier Filipino surfer Roger Casugay, who was hailed as a hero for saving a fellow competitor during a contest, won a gold medal, even beating the rival he rescued on his way to glory.
Sepak takraw involves players keeping a rattan ball from touching the ground and launching it over the 1.52-metre high net
Casugay became an online sensation after he leapt from his board to help Indonesia’s Arip Nurhidayat, who had got into difficulty in choppy waters in a longboard qualifying round in the northern Philippines.
But he took the attention in his stride, telling AFP: “That’s the way it is.”
– Kick volleyball –
Thailand secured a team gold in sepak takraw — Southeast Asian kick volleyball — cruising past Myanmar to take top spot in the men’s team regu round-robin event.
Relatively unknown outside the region, sepak takraw involves players showing incredible acrobatic and footballing skills to keep a rattan ball from touching the ground and launching it over the 1.52-metre high net into their opponents’ court.
Thailand won all four of their sepak takraw team regu matches — in which teams are split into sub-groups of three — against Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sunday’s opponents Myanmar.
In Sunday’s other team regu clash at the Subic gymnasium, around 80 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Manila, Malaysia came from behind against Indonesia to secure the silver medal.
Seven of the last 11 home nations have finished top of the medals table at the SEA Games, where the flexible sporting programme is traditionally heavily weighted towards the hosts.
About 8,750 athletes and officials are taking part in the regional Olympics spread across dozens of venues in the northern Philippines, which was hit by a deadly typhoon earlier this week.
The 11-country Games, featuring a record 56 sports, were rocked by Typhoon Kammuri which forced about half of Tuesday’s events to be rescheduled.
Despite more than a dozen deaths in the storm, none of the athletes, officials or 12,000 volunteers was reported hurt and a full programme resumed on Wednesday.