HOSTS Malaysia made a perfect start to the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games by winning the first gold medal of competition – in sepak takraw.
There were scenes of jubilation inside the Titiwangsa Indoor Stadium as Malaysia’s Chinlone team of Muhd Faiz Roslan, Mohd Kamal Aizat Azmi, Ab Muhaimi Che Bongsu, Putera Aidil Israfi Kamaruzaman, Muhamad Asyraaf Abd Hadi and Izuan Afendi Azlan gained 391 points in the linking event to secure gold.
Their main rivals in the final were Philippines, whose team of John Jeffery Morcillos, John Bobier, Rhemwil Catana, Ronsited Gabayeron, Joeart Jumawan and Alvin Pangan scored 271 points.
Brunei collected bronze with 157 points, with all of the medallists being aided by Myanmar’s decision to focus on the Chinlone’s stroke event.
Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin presented the gold medal to the winners and said after the presentation ceremony: “Mission accomplished. One down and 110 to go.”
Malaysia have targeted an ambitious haul of 111 gold medals at these Games, up from the 62 they won in Singapore two years ago.
“This gold medal means a lot,” he added. “It is the first step towards achieving our target. The players were excellent in controlling the ball. Their spirit was very high.”
National head coach Mohd Yusoff Abdullah said: “It has been a great moment for me to be part of this gold-medal winning team.
“We were confident of scoring higher points and the gold medal has lifted a lot of pressure. The Philippines are relatively new in this sport and given time they will be a team to watch.”
— TEAM MAS (@AtletMalaysia) August 16, 2017
But while there was joy for Malaysia in sepak takraw, gold medal hope Fatin Nurfatehah Mat Salleh had to settle for bronze in the women’s individual compound archery.
Fatin, a three-time gold medallist in Singapore last time, was edged out by Indonesia’s Sri Ranti (gold) and Vietnam’s Chau Kieu Oanh (silver).
The men’s individual compound was won by another Indonesian, Prima Wisnu Wardhana, with Malaysia’s Mohd Juwaidi Mazuki taking silver and Philippines’ Paul Marton Dela Cruz bronze.