Gold narrowly eludes Singapore duo

Gold narrowly eludes Singapore duo
Singapore's Peter Gilchrist (left) and Chan Keng Kwang rue missing out on the English billiards doubles title despite their valiant effort. The Singapore pair lost to Myanmar’s Htay Aung and Thun Min Si Thu, who clawed back from two frames down to win the final at the OCBC Arena on 9 June 2015.

Ten points. Just 10 points separated Peter Gilchrist and Chan Keng Kwang from a gold medal for Singapore.

But, as Myanmar's Htay Aung and Thun Min Si Thu came back from the brink, clawing back from two frames down to win the SEA Games English billiards doubles yesterday at the OCBC Arena, Singapore's top player Gilchrist was serene even as the title slipped through their fingers.

Or he was hiding his disappointment well after the marathon three-hour final.

"It was a bit disappointing but it's an improvement from the last SEA Games where we got bronze. We got a silver this time," Gilchrist said with a smile.

"It's billiards, you've just got to take a loss. No point crying over it. Even if it's 10 points, there's nothing you can do."

Instead of wailing over the loss, the 47-year-old is focusing on the team event today, when he could complete his hat-trick of golds at these Games following wins in the English billiards (500) singles and English billiards singles.

"I can't wait for the team games tomorrow. I'm playing well, even though I didn't do it (winning the doubles), but tomorrow will be different.

"No more mistakes," he said.

Chan did not speak to the media after the final.

In stark contrast, Htay and Thun shed tears of joy.

"After losing the two frames, we thought the game was over," Htay said.

"But we kept trying, to get one frame each, and we got there.

"After 2-2, I knew that we were getting the medal."

The score was 90-48 to Singapore in the final frame but then it was Thun's turn and he never left the table, scoring 52 straight points to give Myanmar the victory.

"I can't explain how overwhelmed I am with emotions. The last shot was the biggest shot of my life," he said.

It was a tiring day for the Singaporeans, who finished an equally exciting semi-final against Thailand just 30 minutes before the final.

The Thais were up 2-1 before Gilchrist single-handedly won the game, shutting them out in the final two frames in 21/2 hours of drama to seal a 3-2 win.

Gilchrist did not feel fatigued at all, though, despite having little time to rest.

"The SEA Games come once in two years, I could go a couple of days without sleep," he said cheerfully.

The billiards doubles gold medal has eluded him in the past three Games, with the Singaporean having to settle for a bronze each time. But he now has a silver following yesterday's thriller.

At 10am today, he, along with Chan and Yeo Teck Shin, will take on Indonesia in the billiards team quarter-finals.

And Gilchrist cannot wait to go.

"I love the game and ask the marathon runners about fatigue," he chirped. "I'm just knocking a few balls in."

marcusl@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 10, 2015.
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