Marriage Proposals to ‘Magician’: Five Moments from the SEA Games


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Hanoi (AFP) – The 31st SEA Games in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi wraps up later Monday after nearly two weeks of records, adulation and marriage proposals.

AFP Sport lists five memorable moments:

Rock star treatment

Efren Reyes from the Philippines received the kind of welcome more commonly associated with rock stars than aging pool players.

With more than 100 professional titles to his name in a career spanning more than four decades, the 67-year-old has been beset by young fans eager to get a closer look and snap a selfie every time. that their hero was coming.

Despite pulling out of an event early, hundreds of fans were still chasing the veteran player known as “The Magician” as he left the building under a heavy security escort. “I like You!” they shouted as he waved majestically from a bus.

He left the Games with a bronze medal.

Faster than Bolt

Thai teenager Puripol Boonson blitzed the men’s 100m and 200m to underscore his status as a future world sprint star.

The 16-year-old twice broke the Games record in the 200m, his best time of 20.37 seconds sealing his first gold medal, and the fastest man (or teenager) in Asia du Sud-Est reportedly clocked a career-best 100m 10.19 seconds.

Thailand’s Puripol Boonson has become a sprint star of the future Ye Aung ThuAFP

“I’ve never seen anyone from Asia move like that and at that age,” retired UK sprinter Shyam, the Singapore national 100m record holder, told The Straits Times.

“Just think: his time means he’s faster than Usain Bolt was when Bolt was 16.”

golden moment

A sport not usually associated with romance, a married Vietnamese chess couple each won gold in their category at almost the same time.

Playing for the men’s and women’s rapid titles, Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and his wife Pham Le Thao Nguyen won gold in their chess matches within minutes of each other.

“We were always together in training. We supported and shared the difficulties together,” said Truong Son, 32, the youngest Vietnamese to be named a grandmaster.

“Now is the time for us to celebrate together.”

Stadium proposals

There was also something in the air at Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium.

Days after a spectator knelt down to ask for her partner’s hand at the opening ceremony – she said yes – Vietnamese long jumper Nguyen Tien Trong did the same with partner Nguyen Thi Phuong Trinh.

The sepak takraw competitor also said yes to cap off a good day for Trong – earlier he won gold for the hosts.

Soccer Frenzy

Thousands of Vietnamese took to the streets across the country after the Games hosts beat Thailand 1-0 to gold in men’s football.

Football fans across Vietnam celebrated men's gold
Football fans across Vietnam celebrated men’s gold Ye Aung ThuAFP

Striker Nham Manh Dung was the hero with an 83rd-minute header that deflected into the top corner and sent the crowd of 40,000 into a frenzy.

Then, fans waving Vietnamese flags and blasting horns clogged roads in Hanoi and beyond in a burst of national pride.


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