Thais grab taekwondo golds

Thailand maintained their hefty lead in the 27th Myanmar SEA Games medal standings on a day when Myanmar excelled in their traditional sports, helping the hosts to surge ahead of Vietnam into second place overall.

Myanmar yesterday fared well to clinch a handful of gold medals in traditional sports, including kempo and the traditional boat race.

After trailing in third place overall a few days ago, the hosts are now in second spot and seemingly hot on the Thai heels as there are more gold medals on offer in traditional sports, including vovinam and kempo.

Thailand ruled the roost in the taekwondo competition at the Wunna Thekdi Indoor Gymnasium A yesterday.

A total of four gold medals were up for grabs and the Thai taekwondo exponents performed superbly to take the lion's share, with three gold plus one bronze, leaving Vietnam to take the remaining gold in the men's 58-63kg class, thanks to Huynh Le Chau's impressive form. Thailand's Sornsart Poolpong had to be content with the bronze medal.

Among the three titles won by Thailand, the Guangzhou Asian Games gold medallist Sarita Pongsri captured the day's first gold in the women's 49-53kg class after thrashing Vietnamese Nguyen Thanh Thao in the showdown 7-5.

The second gold came from Nutthawee Klompong, who stamped his authority in the men's 54-58kg division after outclassing Indonesian Ong Stevanus Ariosuseno 6-2 in the final clash.

Phannapa Harnsujin, who claimed gold in this year's Korea Open, struck great form to beat Vietnamese Thi Huong Giang Doan 10-7 in the climax to win the women's 46-49kg.

Thailand also swept both golds on offer in the men's and women's futsal, with their women's side crushing Vietnam 5-0 in the showdown. In the final match of the women's team hockey competition, Thailand failed to make their mark after trailing defending champions Malaysia 0-2 at half-time.

They tried to match the mighty Malaysians, who in the second preliminary round set a world record with a scintillating 36-0 win over Cambodia, but their determined efforts were to no avail. Malaysia thrashed Thailand 6-1 to snatch the gold, leaving the Thai women to pick up silver.

Indonesian rowers smashed hosts Myanmar's dreams of a clean sweep in the traditional boat race yesterday.

As Myanmar took the lion's share of three gold medals out of four up for grabs - winning the men's and women's 5-crew 500m race and the mixed 10-crew 500m race - the Indonesians took the mixed 20-crew 500m event. The Thai rowers claimed only two silver medals, one each from the two mixed races.

At press time, Thailand remained at the top of the medal standings with 86 gold, 86 silver and 68 bronze. Myanmar were in second place overall with 69 gold. Vietnam are in third position with 66 gold.