After a rest day (Tuesday) in the Athletics programme at the South East Asian Games, competition is back underway today.
The Philippines may not yet quite match the Thais when it comes to track & field supremacy in South East Asia but the performances of its men here at the SEA Games in Hanoi have been quite an eye-opener for its regional rivals. In particular, it has dominated the track races from 400m onwards.
The talented Ernie Candelario took the 400m in 47.06, ahead of team mate Jimar Aing (47.23) and Thailand’s Nilploy Narong (47.31). With two medallists for the 400m, the Philippines is also expected to dominate in the 4x400m relay.
In the 1500m, John Lozada (3:56.80) edged out Vietnam’s Tran Van Thang (3:57.33) and Singapore’s Chamkaur Singh (3:59.34) who took the silver and bronze medals respectively.
The highly experienced Eduardo Buenvista reigned in the 10,000m with his effort of 29:19.62. Thailand’s Boothung Srisung (29:40.28) and Myanmar’s Aung Thu Ya (29:49.63) had to settle for the minor honours.
As for the 3,000m steeplechase, Filipino power was evident from the victory of Rene Herrera (8:50.78). Thailand’s Jirasak Suthichat (8:52.47) took the silver while Vietnam’s Nguyen Kien Trung (8:52.53) won the bronze.
This Filipino revival may also continue in the toughest event of all - the Decathlon which begins today in Hanoi on the third day of Athletics competition.
Fidel Gallenero and Roberto Fresnido are expected to make their presence felt. As defending champion, Fidel, a former national class rower will be the focus of attention.
After the first event the 100m he is already living up to his billing, with a 11.13 second run. However, as the following nine events unfold today and tomorrow he is expected to face competition from opponents like Malaysia’s Mohd Malik Ahmad Tobias, Thailand’s Boonkete Chalon and Vietnam’s Bui Van Ha.
In particular, the well-built and young Tobis, touted by coaches in this region as a raw talent with immense potential, is emerging to be a threat. The hope in the Filipino camp is that Fidel’s experience will see him through.
Fidel, who enjoys cooking when he is away from the heat of competition, coolly commented that “for me, what matters is that I keep my focus when I compete. There is no point feeling too pressurised just because you are the defending champion.” His long term target, he says, is to go over 7000 points for this gruelling event.
Other early events on Day Three -
Apart from the interest in the men’s team from the Philippines, all eyes were also on Thailand’s Apisit Kuttiyawan today. Running within himself, he won the 400m Hurdles in 51.75. While this was way off his personal best, he was just happy to have won against a less than competitive field. Vietnam’s Nguyen Bao Huy (51.75) took the silver while the bronze was won by Thailand’s Jirachai Linglom (52.04).
In the women’s 400m Hurdles, the much-improved Noraseela Mohd Khalid of Malaysia, won in a respectable time of 57.72, which created a mild upset as she beat Thailand’s highly fancied Wassana Winatho (57.78) for the gold medal. Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Nu (61.79) finished a distant third.
5000m gets home crowd cheering
The race so far of the day, however, was the women’s 5000m. The presence of Vietnam’s Doan Nu Truc Van, who had won the 10,000m (34:48.28) earlier in the Games, ensured that would be the case.
With the crowd cheering her and bursting into Vietnamese songs as a way to spur her on, it was assumed that she just might also win the 5000m – at the expense of Indonesia’s Supriati Sutono who had narrowly lost to her in the 10,000m (34:48.93).
However, the experienced Indonesian, like a true champion, wasn’t about to allow herself to be beaten twice in the same meet. With sheer determination, Supriati (16:09.39) finally dismissed the local threat, and with Myanmar’s Phyu War Thet (silver, 16:10.57) also pipping Doan (bronze, 16:12.73), clinched a well-deserved gold medal.
In a way, even the Vietnamese fans, ever sporty in the midst of understandably supporting their own athletes, couldn’t begrudge Supriati her moment of glory. For everyone present, the exciting race was a lesson on true grit – and an entertaining one too.
Chua Chong Jin for the IAAF
Update of later events on Day Three
Indonesia’s Yurita Ariyani Arsyad won the women's Hammer
throw with 49.79m. Thailand's Kruawan Taweedech threw
47.35m for second.
Only Thailand’s Amnat Kunpadit won a medal in the men’s Pole Vaulting as nobody else could clear the bar! Amnat collected gold after clearing 4.60m on his third try and 4.80 on his second. He missed all three tries at 5.00, still below the SEA Games record of 5.05. Four other vaulters missed all their tries at heights ranging from 4.40 to 4.80.
Malaysia's Muhammad Nazmizan added the 200 metres title to
his gold at 100m, and Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Tinh did the same in the women's 200m.