KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia struck a golden 13 at the midway point of the 29th SEA Games to boost their haul to 63 and further stretched the gap on the rivals in their hunt for 111 gold to top the overall competition.
Among the stars today were 16-year-old hammer thrower Grace Wong, pint?sized boxer Muhammad Fuad Mohd Redzuan and the national karate squad which was again in top form to end their challenge with two more gold from the men’s kata and women’s team kumite for seven from three days.
Equestrian, silat, shooting, tenpin bowling, lawn bowls, swimming, petanque, debut sport cricket and squash tipped one each to the stack amid troubling news that several home athletes have been struck by food poisoning.
With a week of competition and 199 events left, Malaysia’s tally of 63 gold, 45 silver and 37 bronze looms above second placed Vietnam with 37 gold, Singapore 34, Thailand 24, Indonesia 19, Philippines 14, Myanmar five and Cambodia finally breaking the duck with the petanque women’s doubles honours.
The semifinal clashes in the hotly-contested men’s football battle set for Saturday were decided after the last group matches finished today. Malaysia will face off with Indonesia while defending champions Thailand will meet Myanmar in a repeat of the 2015 final won by the Thais 3-0.
Grace Wong, a form four student, stole the show with a thundering first throw and a SEA Games record of 59.24m in the hammer throw to upset previous champion Mingkammon Koomphon of Thailand who set the previous record of 56.57m two years ago.
Wong, a bronze medallist two years ago, landed a double for Malaysia. Fellow Sarawakian Jackie Wong Siew Cheer had taken the men’s gold yesterday and shattered the record as well.
Muhamed Fuad, who had set his sights on a silver, held high Malaysia’s first ever boxing gold in eight years by beating the fancied Thani Narinram of Thailand in the light flyweight final. Malaysia’s other boxing finalist Adli Hafidz Mohd Pauzi settled for the silver after the referee stopped his bout in less than 25 seconds following a pounding by British-FilipinoJohn Nobel Tupas.
A second gold from squash came from the all-Malaysia mixed doubles. Sanjay Singh Chal and S. Sivasangari claimed a narrow 11-9, 11-10 final contest over Ryan Neville Pasqual and Andrea Lee Qia Ji to extend Malaysia’s domination in the sport which is expected to bring in seven gold.
Coming out of seven years of retirement, siblings Quzandria Nur Mahamad Fathil and her elder brother, Mohd Qabil Ambak showed they are still in great form, clinching the gold and silver in the individual dressage, a day after featuring in the gold winning team dressage.
Petanque produced a second gold medal for Malaysia through men’s doubles Saiful Bahri Musmin and Syed Akmal Fikri Syed Ali following in the footsteps of Muhammad Hafizuddin Mat Daud who was defending the men’s singles title on Tuesday.
Malaysia collected a second women’s accolade in the bowling team challenge through the experienced line-up of Shalin Zulkifli, Esther Cheah Mei Lan, Natasha Roslan, Sin Li Jane, Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi and Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman posting 6,264 pinfalls to push Singapore and the Philippines to the silver and gold.
In the Singapore-dominated swimming contest, Phee Jinq En defended the women’s 100m breastroke in a Games record 1:09.00s to clip the previous mark belonging to fellow Malaysian Siow Yi Ting set in 2009, to collect Malaysia’s third gold at the National Aquatic Centre.
Muhd Ezuan Nasir Khan gave Malaysia a third gold in four days at the National Shooting Range, coming out tops in the men’s 50m rifle prone on 242.8 points fending off silver-placed Ong Jun Hong of Singapore on 239.5 points.
Malaysa opened the pencak silat competition with Mohd Taqiuddin Hamid and Rosli Mohd Sharif upstaging Indonesia’s Hendy and Yolla Primadona Jumpil in the mens’s ganda to wrest the gold.
With 20 gold at stake, pencak silat is a crucial medal prospect for Malaysia and the homesters are expected to deliver having emerged overall champions in the Southeast Asian Silat Championships in March this year.
It was mixed day for the national lawn bowls team when the Philippines dashed Malaysia’s hopes of a golden start by taking the men’s fours title with a narrow 16-14 victory but the national women’s quartet of Nor Hashimah Ismail, Nur Fidrah Noh, Nurul Alyani Jamil and Nur Ain Nabilah Tarmizi avenged that by beating their Filipino opponents 21-14 to emerge victorious.
In first time sport cricket, Malaysia finished unbeaten in the men’s 50 Overs to claim the gold. The silver went to Singapore and the bronze to Thailand.
In badminton, Malaysia will have to look for gold in the individual championships after bowing out in the team competition. The women’s team went down 1-3 to defending champion Thailand while the men’s team was whipped 3-0 by Indonesia in the men’s final.