S'pore's total gold medal tally could go to 85

S'pore's total gold medal tally could go to 85
In a show of class and ice-cool nerves, Alfian routed the Vietnamese world champion to clinch Singapore’s only silat gold of the Games, and the 80th of these Games.

It is a sport that has consistently produced world champions for Singapore.

It has regularly shown off gold medallists at the SEA Games.

Until this year, when silat failed to deliver even one gold medal for the Republic - on home soil no less - entering the final day of competition.

Imagine the pressure on 18-year-old Alfian Juma'en, when he entered his Class F (70-75kg) final bout against Vietnam's Tran Dinh Nam yesterday.

In a show of class and ice-cool nerves, Alfian routed the Vietnamese world champion to clinch Singapore's only silat gold of the Games, and our 80th of these Games.

Alfian's story is one of talent, grit and gumption, a reflection of what Team Singapore's athletes have displayed over the last two weeks, to deliver a record haul of gold medals.

And there are two days to go.

The New Paper predicted this year's team of 749 athletes - the biggest Singapore contingent in the history of the Games - would shatter the previous gold-medal record of 50 achieved in 1993, the last time the country hosted the region's biggest multi-sport event.

Our count stood at 75, Singapore are now at 82 golds and, with the men's and women's water polo teams heavy favourites to win, 84 is almost certainly the magic number of the Class of 2015.

The Republic's stunning showing this time around is why so many Singaporeans have been monitoring the overall medal tally so closely over the past few days - to see if the country, can, quite astonishingly, finish top of the pile among the 11 nations for the first time ever.

After the hosts led the medal table for much of the Games, the Thai sports machine has gone into overdrive over the last 48 hours and will surely stay top, but Singapore can be confident of finishing second.

Vietnam, nine golds behind, will need a Herculean effort to overtake the hosts in the final two days.

If Singapore are second by the time the Games' flame is doused tomorrow, it will be the first time since 1975 the nation has been in the lofty position.

Thailand's football team are favourites to beat Myanmar in the men's Under-23 final, their petanque contingent have a chance to add two more golds, and the women's volleyball team will be fighting for gold with Vietnam.

CHANCES

Sepak takraw (two finals), squash (one) and basketball (one) complete the list.

Our men's jumbo doubles have a chance in squash, and Singapore's shuttlers will feature in the men's singles and doubles semi-finals.

Tomorrow, seven golds are on offer, with five from badminton and one in men's volleyball.

Fittingly, the men's water polo finale in the afternoon will be the final event of the Games.

Singapore started their record-breaking gold-medal run by winning the first one on offer, in the women's table tennis doubles event.

The water polo boys will be raging favourites to win the 402nd, and final gold, of the Games tomorrow.

Just like Alfian's tale, it will be a wonderful story to tell.

garylim@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on June 15, 2015.
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