KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian athletes fought with grit to the very end to wrap up their best ever SEA Games to emerge overall champions and present a euphoric gift of 145 gold medals to the nation which celebrates its 60th anniversary tomorrow.
In the final push today, Malaysia whacked five of the last seven gold at stake, packing two more from diving as expected and another three from the the ice skating team to bring the curtains down on 12 days of competition.
This is the second time Malaysia have topped the Games after their first in 2001 when they won 111 gold also on home soil. Setting a similar target this time and to their utter delight, the national athletes responded with such fighting spirit and comradeship to surpass the mark.
Taking top spot on the medals board with 145 gold, 92 silver and 86 bronze, the hosts tower over Thailand who are going home with 72 gold including the prized men’s football title for the third time in a row, a sharp drop from their 95-gold domination of the Singapore Games two years ago.
Vietnam finished third by a whisker with 58 gold, just one ahead of Singapore followed by Indonesia 38, the Philippines 24, Myanmar seven, Cambodia three and Laos two. Rounding up the 11 participating nations are Brunei who have five silver and eight bronze and Timor Leste with three bronze.
National divers signed off with the men’s and women’s titles in synchronised 10m platform to sweep all 13 gold offered in the sport at the National Aquatic Centre.
Leong Mun Yee and Traisy Vivien Tukiet faced no threat at all in retaining the women’s gold while in the men’s event, promising 16-year-old Jellson Jabillin and Hanis Nazirul Jaya Surya did not squander the opportunity in nailing the men’s title for their first time.
The men’s gold was won two years ago by the more experienced Ooi Tze Liang and Chew Yiwei who are still in the team but are taking a back seat to give a chance to the youngsters to prove themselves.
In the hotly-contested final day of speed skating, Malaysia’s 500m gold medallist Anya Chong kept her cool to win a second Games medal from the 1,000m short track event with Ashley Chin taking the bronze.
The two girls came back to pick up a fourth gold medal for Malaysia in the 3,000m relay with Nor Marissa Ahmad Lokman and See Wan Ni in tow before the men’s team also took the 3,000m relay gold.
The first gold was won by figure skater Julian Yee.
In weightlifting. Malaysia’s best show was a silver from Mohamad Fazrul Azrie in the men’s 85kg with a 323kg total including 182kg in the clean and jerk that smashed his own national record of 181 set in May this year.
The gold was won by Thailand’s Pornchai Lobsi with 337kg and the bronze was claimed by Vietnamese Hoang Tan Tai on 322kg.
The next Games will be hosted by the Philippines. – BERNAMA