Wednesday, 16 December 2009

RP boosts medal tally with marathon double but Thailand still leads

Buenavista, Banayag hit gold

VIENTIANE -- The Philippines won the men’s and women’s marathons at the Southeast Asian Games yesterday to boost its medal haul but Thailand remained well clear of the chasing pack.

Eduardo Buenavista took the men’s race in two hours, 21 minutes and 10 seconds, finishing 46 seconds ahead of 2007 winner, Indonesia’s Yahuza, with Cambodia’s Hem Bunting taking the bronze.

In the women’s race, Jho-An Banayag took gold in 2hrs 46mins 34secs, edging out defending champion Sunisa Sailomyen of Thailand by 13 seconds with Myanmar’s Ni Lar San in third place.

The Philippines has 20 golds but Thailand, who topped the medals table in 2007, is on 42 golds, including seven in athletics and eight in shooting, eight clear of Vietnam in second place, with Singapore on 28.

Elsewhere yesterday, the men’s and women’s singles table tennis finals were due to take place. Powerhouse Singapore has won four of the five golds up for grabs so far.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s football coach K. Rajagobal said his players had earned their place in the final of the under-23 competition after overcoming the host nation 3-1 in a fanatically partisan stadium on Monday.

"The players did a good job and we deserved to be in the final," he said, according to the New Straits Times.

"In the second half, I knew Laos would come at us but we began to lose a bit of organization.

"The game was drifting away from us when they equalized but the players showed character, believed in themselves and got the second goal before the third goal followed."

Malaysia will meet Vietnam in the final, who defeated Singapore 4-1.

SEA Games organizing committee chairman Somsavat Lengsavad said the games would boost sport in Laos, who, with 17 golds so far, are closing in on their pre-Games target of 25.

"SEA Games fever has shown that people want to cheer for and support their athletes in popular sports so this leads me to believe Laos sport will improve," he said, according to the Vientiane Times.

He added that the Games were an important milestone for the country.

"Our athletes have done well, winning many gold, silver and bronze medals even though the games are still not over. Laos has never had such medal success. But this time we are the hosts so our athletes trained hard for this victory."

Athletes from 11 nations are competing at the 10-day biennial SEA Games in sports ranging from athletics and swimming to sepak takraw and wushu. They close on Dec. 18.

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