SEA Games: The star performers

SEA Games: The star performers
Victory ceremony (from left) Singapore’s Lim Wei Wen, Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Nhat in the 28th SEA Games fencing men's individual epee final at OCBC Arena on 3 June 2015. Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Nhat won 15-8 against Singapore's Lim Wei Wen.
PHOTO: TNP

JOSEPH SCHOOLING

(SINGAPORE, SWIMMING)

Schooling shattered records in the 50m and 100m freestyle, 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley, and helped in the 4x100m, 4x200m freestyle and the 4x100m medley relay records.

Nine events, nine gold medals, 10 Games records, including a new time during his leg in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

He has already tasted Asian Games success, created history by medalling at the Commonwealth Games, and become a collegiate sensation in the United States where he is studying at the University of Texas.

His coach there, three-time US men's Olympic swim team coach Eddie Reese, has tipped him to do something special at the Rio Olympics next year.

For Joe, the sky's the limit.

NGUYEN THI ANH VIEN

(VIETNAM, SWIMMING)

At the last Singapore SEA Games in 1993, Joscelin Yeo stole the show by winning all nine of her events as a 14-year-old, and went on to become the region's most bemedalled gold medallist, winning 40 over eight Games.

Twenty-two years on, a teenage girl from Vietnam made a similar splash at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, 18, collected eight individual golds from her nine events, setting seven Games records in the process.

She set new bests in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle, the 200m butterfly, 200m backstroke, and 200m and 400m individual medley.

Her ability to triumph in those gruelling events, as well as the 200m breaststroke, have earned her the nickname "Iron Girl".

Nguyen's gold haul in Singapore has taken her tally up to 11. No doubt, she'll be looking to one day dethrone Yeo as the region's greatest swim queen.

CHANATHIP SONGKRASIN

(THAILAND, FOOTBALL)

Thailand outclassed all comers as they romped to their 15th football title in 28 SEA Games, scoring 24 goals in seven games and conceding just one.

While coach Choketawee Promrut has talented players all over the pitch, one star shone brightest.

He is nicknamed "Messi Jay" for a reason, and Chanathip Songkrasin showed everyone why he is arguably the most exciting young talent in the region today.

Standing at just 1.57 metres, the 21-year-old attacking midfielder showed glimpses of his skill in the group stages before bursting into life in their 5-0 romp over Indonesia in the semi-final.

He starred again in the 3-0 win over Myanmar in the final, and played a delicious killer-pass for Thailand's second goal, which sealed the game.

The BEC Tero star has been courted by clubs in the region dangling big pay packets, but his dream is to strut his stuff in one of Asia's top leagues, like Japan's J-League.

THE VOLCANOES

(PHILIPPINES, RUGBY 7s TEAM)

If Thailand were the undisputed kings of football, rugby 7s' version was the Philippines.

The Volcanoes, comprising mostly players with Philippine heritage who live overseas, were a cut above the rest.

They were simply bigger, quicker and stronger than the other five teams in contention.

They completed a remarkable two days of rugby 7s by winning all five of their round-robin matches and the gold-medal match with a combined score of 177-27.

With the win, they went one better than the silver medal they won at the 2007 Games in Thailand - the last time rugby was featured at the biennial event.

SUTHASINI SAWETTABUT

(THAILAND, TABLE TENNIS)

The unheralded 21-year-old, ranked 107th in the world, sent shockwaves through the Games when she beat Singapore's world No. 4 Feng Tianwei 9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-9 in the preliminary round of the women's table tennis singles event.

It was labelled by some as the biggest shock of any sport at any SEA Games.

The Thai paddler was in tears after the win that stunned the home fans at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Three-time Olympic medallist Feng, 28, won the title at the 2009 and 2011 Games and was the overwhelming favourite for gold again, but she was powerless to stop her younger opponent.

Suthasini went on to clinch the title, ending Singapore's dominance in the event for 20 years since Jing Junhong won it in Thailand in 1995.

Eight who are great

ERIC CRAY

(ATHLETICS, PHILIPPINES)

The region's new sprint king blew away his opponents with a 10.25sec run in the blue riband 100m race, finishing 0.20 clear of his closest rival.

Born to a Filipina mum and American dad, the 26-year-old Texas-based sprinter also set a new Games record as he cantered to the 400m hurdles in 49.40.

OOI TZE LIANG

(DIVING, MALAYSIA)

The 21-year-old Penang native won all four golds on offer for male divers, pulling off the feat over four days and 24 dives.

His performances helped Malaysia to a clean sweep of all eight diving golds at the Games.

SOH RUI YONG

(MARATHON, SINGAPORE)

The 23-year-old won gold in the marathon in testing wet conditions, outlasting his rivals like Filipino Eduardo Buenavista and Thai Srisung Boonthung, who have won multiple middle-distance SEA Games golds in the past.

What makes Soh's triumph even more impressive is that it was only the second-ever marathon he had run.

NGUYEN TIEN NHAT

(FENCING, VIETNAM)

The 25-year-old fencer was the star of the men's epee event, and was the only one from 15 fencers to win all five of his pool matches.

He went on to outclass all his opponents, including spirited home fencer Lim Wei Wen in the final, to win the gold, and also helped Vietnam to the team epee title.

SHANTI PEREIRA

(ATHLETICS, SINGAPORE)

The Republic's golden girl in track and field ended up with a bronze medal in the 100m and gold in her pet event, the 200m, ending a 42-year drought.

The 18-year-old also came close to a medal in the 4x400m relay, but her team got pipped by Malaysia to the bronze, in a photo finish.

JAMRAS RITTIDET

(ATHLETICS, THAILAND)

Even a back injury was not enough to stop the 26-year-old from claiming his fourth consecutive SEA Games 110m hurdles gold medal.

Remarkably, Jamras has set new Games records in all four of his triumphs. His current SEA Games best is 13.69sec.

AL JUFFERI AL JAMARI

(SILAT, MALAYSIA)

The self-confessed "kampung boy" from Pahang, just 23, is arguably the region's top silat exponent, with two world titles under his belt.

He beat Vietnam's Vu Van Hoang in the Class E (65-70kg) final in style, sending him to the mat an astonishing 10 times in the six-minute match to seal his third SEA Games gold since his 2011 debut.

TESSA NEO

(SINGAPORE)

The SEA Games debutante, who is the cousin of 2011 Sportswoman of the Year Jasmine Ser, won gold in the invididual 10m air rifle final.

Just 17, Nanyang Polytechnic student Neo also combined with Ser and Martina Veloso to help Singapore win a historic gold in the women's 10m air rifle team event.

 

 


This article was first published on June 17, 2015.
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