SEA Games: Myanmar closing in on target

SEA Games: Myanmar closing in on target
Myanmar has entries in all 33 sports featured at these Games. The country's traditional boat race rowers contributed six.

It is a target which many feel is unrealistic - Myanmar's lofty 100-gold mark for this SEA Games, a huge jump from its paltry 16-gold haul from the last edition.

Yet, as the host nation crossed the halfway mark of its ambitious target on Wednesday - it reached 60 on Thursday - the huge haul is leaving traditional SEA Games powerhouses like Thailand a little nervous.

Thailand currently heads the medal table with 82 golds (at press time) but, with 111 golds up for grabs in the final three days of competition, its chef de mission Thana Chaiprasit is concerned that third-placed Myanmar has what it takes to catch up.

He said: "We are highly likely to win 100 to 110 gold medals. But 100 gold medals may not be enough for us to be the overall leader by the end of the Games."

Already, Myanmar has overtaken its previous best gold-medal showing of 57 golds won in Yangon in 1969, the last time it hosted the Games, then known as the South-east Asian Peninsular Games. It has won its golds largely in combat sports like boxing.

The host has sent over 1,000 athletes to compete in all 33 sports, and this ensures that the nation will have a presence in the remaining competitions right until the final day on Sunday.

More crucially, some of the sports left on the programme - especially traditional events like kempo, vovinam and muay thai - are Myanmar's strong suits.

There are 18 golds up for grabs in vovinam, 15 left in kempo and 14 in muay thai.

Although Thailand would also feature strongly in muay thai, Myanmar could sweep the 33 golds in the other two traditional sports in a best-case scenario, and boost its total to 93 golds - just seven short of its target.

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