KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 2017 : Young sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan sent the country into a frenzy last night by emerging as the fastest man in Southeast Asia, a feat that will surely be celebrated for a long time even as the home contingent continues to outperform their rivals in the 29th SEA Games.
With millions of Malaysians glued to the television and hundreds more in the National Stadium, the 19-year-old looking very relaxed and a big smile on his face outran previous champion Eric Cray of the Philippines to add the 100m gold to the overall pile of 16 won by the rest of the contingent yesterday.
The hosts tightened their stranglehold of the medals board with 40 so far, doubled that of current second placed Singapore which scooped three swimming titles to raise their tally to 20, staying ahead of Vietnam with 16, Thailand and Indonesia on 12, the Philippines eight and Myanmar four.
Sharing the limelight today were the gymnastics and karate teams taking three gold each and wushu exponents wrapping with two more. More rolled from the men’s cycling time trial team, equestrian dressage, women’s shooting, men’s petanque, mixed optimist sailing and tenpin bowling mixed doubles.
Landing a surprise double gold in the pommel horse were first timer and Sukma (Malaysia Games) 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 medallist, nailed the gold and Tracie Ang the bronze for Malaysia too.
Malaysia’s last gold in men’s gymnastics was in the 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, also in the horizontal bar.
The karate squad opened their campaign with Celine Lee Xin Yi and Lim Chee Wei both outperforming their Indonesian opposition for the women’s and men’s kata. S. Senthil Kumaran then delivered Malaysia’s third gold in the men’s below 60kg category when he defeated Jayson Ramil Macaalay of the Philippines 5-3.
In wushu which ended today, veteran Loh Jack Chang became the second exponent after Yeap Wai Kin to be a doubles gold medallist with a classy performance to defend the Taijiquan gold after taking the Taijijian title on Sunday.
Alia Sazana Azahari had an emotional day in defending the 25m pistol 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.
At the same shooting range, Vietnam were shocked by the lapse of their Olympics star Hoang Xuan Vinh who was ousted pre-maturely in his bid to defend the 50m free pistol that eventually went to Natphanlert Auapinyakul of Thailand and the silver going to Malaysia’s Jonathan Wong, bronze medallist in Singapore.
Muhammad Hafizuddin Mat Daud defended the petanque men’s singles title for Malaysia routing Thailand’s Kiatkong Tanong 13-7 in the final.
Young kegler and singles gold medallist Muhammad Rafiq Ismail teamed up with Sin Li Jane to knock down the mixed doubles gold. It is Muhamad Rafiq’s second gold medal in the Games.
In Langkawi, Malaysia again emerged victorious in the mixed optimist race edging Thailand 2-1 but failed to defend the laser standard and laser radial race that went Singapore and Thailand’s way.
Another gold will fall into the bag today from the all-Malaysia squash women’s doubles final between Andrea Lee Jia Qi and Rachel Arnold taking on Chan Yiwen and Nazihah Haris
The men’s doubles title will be a toss between Malaysia’s Syafiq Mohd Kamal and Ng Eain Yow against Singapore’s Pang Ka Hoe and Timothy Leong Yew Sing.
Malaysian shuttlers have booked themselves into the men’s and women’s semifinals tomorrow. The men’s squad spearheaded by singles hopeful Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin meets Singapore while it will be a Malaysia-Indonesia clash in the women’s affair.
Malaysia have two challengers in the boxing finals tomorrow. Muhamad Fuad Redzuan will face Thailand’s Thani Narinram for the light flyweight title while the other will see Adli Hafidz Mohd Pauz opposing Marvin John Nobel Tupas of the Philippines
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 silver and two bronze with three titles from the compound contest. – Bernama