Thai takraw stars in a class of their own
Taekwondo fighters win 2 gold medals
Thailand’s Sepak Takraw players wave to the crowd after beating Malaysia in the men’s competition final at the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi on Tuesday. (Reuters photo)
Thailand continued their sepak takraw supremacy, winning the men’s and women’s titles at the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam on Tuesday.
The Thai men beat Malaysia 21-18, 21-13 in the final to claim their 15th gold medal in the event.
In the women’s competition, the Thais beat Malaysia 21-12, 21-9 in their final round robin match to win the country’s 14th title in the discipline.
Thailand had already won the men’s and women’s team gold medals in Hanoi.
In taekwondo, Thailand won two gold medals yesterday.
In the men’s 58kg final, Thanakrit Yodrak comfortably beat Cambodian Youdeth Sam 34-5 to claim the title in his SEA Games debut.
“I’m very happy to win gold in my first SEA Games. I trained very hard – three times a day, two or three hours each session,” said the 19-year-old fighter.
“It’s just the beginning, because I have a bigger goal – I want to compete in the Olympics.”
In the men’s 68kg final, Thailand’s Chaichon Cho beat Vietnam’s Hong Phuc Ly 14-11.
Meanwhile, Olympic champion Panipak Wongpattanakit will be in action in the women’s 49kg category today.
Panipak, world number one and two-time SEA Games champion, is assured of at least a bronze medal.
Thailand’s men’s football team will face Indonesia and Vietnam will face Malaysia in the semi-finals on Thursday.
The Young Elephants finished top of Group B after beating Laos 1-0 with a 19th-minute own goal from At Viengkham on Monday.
Taekwondo star Thanakrit Yodrak celebrates his win in the men’s 58kg category.
“Indonesia played well in the preliminary round and their players played together for quite a long time,” said Thailand coach Mano Polking.
The men’s soccer event at the SEA Games is for U23 players only.
Polking guided the senior Thai team to beat Indonesia over two sets in the AFF Suzuki Cup final in January.
Thailand are in the hunt for their 17th men’s football title. Vietnam is the defending champion.
Meanwhile, the Thai women’s football team faces the Philippines in the semi-finals today.
The Philippines stunned Chaba Kaew in this year’s Asian Championship and the Thais are eager to avenge the loss that saw them miss an automatic spot at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
End of Gilchrist’s reign
Singapore-born Peter Gilchrist saw his remarkable run of six straight snooker gold medals at the SEA Games dating back to 2009 come to an abrupt end yesterday.
The 54-year-old, born in Middlesbrough in England, suffered a shock 3-1 loss to Myanmar’s Pauk Sa in their English snooker final and had to settle for the silver.
“It’s been a good race, but all good races must come to an end, and this one is over,” Gilchrist told reporters.
Gilchrist was Singapore’s coach at the 2003 Games, but three years later took citizenship of the city-state under a special program for foreign athletes.
He then played for the Singapore national team before being twice named the country’s Sportsman of the Year.
Although he has tasted defeat and is in the twilight of his career, Gilchrist is determined to aim for more gold at the SEA Games, starting in Cambodia next year.
“I will try to win in Cambodia in a year, and maybe go on for six consecutive gold medals, who knows? he’s laughing.
“I would like to continue playing.”
‘Are you a ladyboy?’
Male sport dance athletes at the SEA Games say they had to overcome outdated stereotypes to reach the pinnacle of competitive ballroom dancing.
Issarapong Duangkaew and his dance partner Thanawan Yananun, both 24, won two titles for Thailand at the Regional Games.
But then Thanawan spoke on behalf of Issarapong about the challenges he and other socially conservative Southeast Asian male dancers face in pursuit of their sport.
“Someone always asks ‘If you do sports dancing, are you a ladyboy?'” she told AFP, as Issarapong looked on. “No, it’s not. It’s like a man dancing ballet or a man dancing K-Pop, that’s how it is,” she added, saying the point view of men doing ballroom dancing was slowly changing.
Dancesport is a physically demanding pursuit where flamboyantly dressed male and female couples must quickly wow the judges with elaborate, sensual and head-turning moves.