Road to SEA Games 2015: Pursuit of excellence

by Nicolette Mok (SEA Games 28 Official Website)24 April 2015 Last updated at 16:17 PM

VTV.vn - As the 28th SEA Games draws closer, we bring you weekly highlights from news headlines splashed across the region’s sports back pages.

It is all about achieving excellence when it comes to large-scale multi-sport events, and the 28th SEA Games is certainly no exception for participating NOCs.

Thailand: All ready to enjoy a fruitful and well-organised SEA Games

Thailand’s sporting officials, who have commended host country Singapore on its preparations, have professed to be looking forward to the 28th SEA Games.

According to the Bangkok Post , deputy governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) Sangvien Boonto has expressed that “it would be one of the best SEA Games”.

The article also revealed that the Kingdom intends to up its medal tally from that achieved in the 2013 edition, by aiming for a result of around 100 to 110 gold medals this time round. Thailand had previously taken the top spot with 107 gold medals during the Myanmar Games, and has set its most promising sport, athletics, a target of 16 championship titles this year.

Malaysia: Fielding only the best

The Malay Mail Online brings news on Malaysia’s contingent selection. Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has announced that no limits will be placed on the number of top-performing athletes selected, as long as the National Sports Associations (NSA) field junior representatives as well.

In fact, as the Daily Express writes, one such NSA is the Malaysian Petaque Federation (MPF), which hopes to finally bring home a gold medal for the nation by sending out its top players.

Among them is World Cup medallist Mohamad Nuzul Azwan Ahmad Termizi, who is tipped to aid the team in its championship bid.

“We are confident that Nuzul Azwan can end our gold medal drought in the SEA Games since he had won a bronze medal in the event at the World Cup in France last year. In previous SEA Games, we have only managed to win a silver or bronze,” commented MPF honorary secretary Zanilisa Mohamad.

Meanwhile, the waterski team is also placing its hopes on an unusually young elite athlete with years of experience under her belt. The Star reports that 11-year-old Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah, the youngest-ever SEA Games medallist, is set on retaining her gold medal in the extreme sport.

Other medal hopefuls from the squad include 13-year-old prodigy Arianna Chow as well as Aaliyah’s brother, former Formula One racer and waterskiing defending champion Alex Yoong.

road to sea games 2015, weekly roundup

The Philippines may be wihout its star boxers but will still be out to defend their boxing title at the 28th SEA Games this June. photo: Aundry Gan/SINGSOC

Philippines: Boxing team remains strong despite departure of headliners

The Inquirer has confirmed that the Philippines boxing squad will be going into the SEA Games without its star boxers Mark Anthony Barriga and Charly Suarez.

Olympian and defending SEA Games champion Barriga, along with Asian Games medallist Suarez, were earlier reported – despite an absence of formal notice – to have opted out of the regional Games this year in favour of the Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur (AIBA) Pro Boxing Tournament.

Chef de mission Julian Camacho, who named the duo as “sure contenders for the gold”, had professed then that he hoped the two prestigious tournaments would not pose any schedule clashes.

However, the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) has released their final list of representatives, and the conspicuous omission of Barriga and Suarez has come to light. Nevertheless, the region can look forward to other similarly competitive Filipino boxers this June, including 2013 SEA Games gold medallists Mario Fernandez and Josie Gabuco.

Myanmar: Footballers gearing up for further international exposure

The Myanmar Times has provided more updates on its SEA Games-bound football team. Having whittled the shortlist down to 30 players, the squad has commenced a training camp at Yangon as part of its quest for the regional title.

The squad will then head overseas to test their skills against K-League and J-League opponents, before returning to host another international friendly.

“The players have been gradually improving as a team and I believe they will develop a great deal of experience from this trip,” remarked head coach U Kyi Lin.

This series of foreign exposure exercises follows the side’s failure to qualify for the AFC U23 Championships. While the players had fought hard to beat Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei in the group stages of their campaign, their defeat at the hands – or rather, feet – of Australia had lost them a place in the meet’s finals.

Although the team’s original objective was simply to make it to the semi-finals of the SEA Games this year, the nation’s deputy minister of sport has disclosed his hopes for a gold medal.

Singapore: Leading distance runner prepared to surmount near-impossible challenge

One of Singapore’s most promising distance runners has been presented with a seemingly superhuman SEA Games task – to run a total of 52.195 kilometres within four days.

According to Asiaone , national marathon star and 10-kilometre record holder Soh Rui Yong has been selected for both these events at the regional meet, with the marathon being held on 7 June and the 10-kilometre race on 10 June.

However, Singapore Athletics (SA) has acknowledged the difficulty of such a race schedule, and does not intend to impose any tall orders on the 23-year-old.

"[Soh is] our best 10-kilometre runner and that's why we decided to pick him for both events. But we are not going to force him to run the 10-kilometre [race] if he doesn't think he can manage both. He will listen to his body and decide," revealed SA president Tang Weng Fei.

While the athlete himself is not in a haste to make any decisions yet, he is certainly game for the challenge.

"Preparing for the 10-kilometre [race] will hone my ability to change gears. That will make me a more dangerous marathoner in a tactical situation," he explained.

"For now, the focus is the marathon. Unfortunately, anyone who runs a marathon knows that three days is not ideal to recover for another hard race. We'll see what happens after but if I feel that I'm in a good enough shape to win a medal in the 10-kilometre [race] after the marathon, I see no reason why I wouldn't run," quipped Soh.

It does seem that the young runner might just be able to pull this feat off, as his impressive SEA Games team selection results were preceded by a record breakthrough in his high-altitude training. Just last week, Soh’s timing earned him a spot as one of the top three fastest Singaporeans at an altitude of over 5,000 metres.

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