Dominant Thailand maintains lead at SEA Games, 1st Ld-Writethru


VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) — Malaysia’s Tan Song Hwa overcame a neck spasm which halted her pre-games training to break a Southeast Asian Games record in the women’s hammer throw Tuesday, while teammate Teoh Boon Lim added a second athletics gold in the 20-kilometer walk.

Closing in on medals tally leader Thailand, Vietnam swept the shooting competitions at the 11-nation event, winning an overall 13 golds and 14 silvers in five sports.

Thailand won nine golds Tuesday — including four in kickboxing — to maintain the lead at the biennial competitions with 51 golds. Vietnam is second with 45, Singapore third with 31, and Malaysia at fourth place with 25.

“I’ve progressed on my technique, and worked on my mental conditioning, overcoming nervousness and fear. It’s thanks to my coach,” Hwa said after hurling the hammer 56.41 meters to break the 53.35 mark set at the 2005 games. Indonesia’s Rose Herlinda took the silver with a 54.12-meter throw and the bronze went to Thailand’s R. Suraprasert with 48 meters.

The 23-year-old university student, coached by Frantisek Petrovic of Slovakia for the past two years, said she had been unable to train for two weeks prior to the games because of the neck ailment.

“Never stop,” Hwa said of her ambition to pursue an improvement curve from fifth place at the last Southeast Asian Games. Her next goal is competing at the Commonwealth Games in India next year.

The Philippines dominated the marathon, with E. Buenavista winning the men’s event in 2 hours, 21 minutes, 10.14 seconds and Jho-an Banayag taking the women’s in 2:46:34.

Myanmar’s Kay Khing Myo Tun captured the gold in the women’s 20-kilometer walk in 1:45.06 while Malaysia’s Lim won the men’s event in 1:31:28. The sixth gold in athletics went to S. Sukhasvasti of Thailand with a 7.83-meter effort in the men’s long jump.

In the shooting competition, Vietnam’s Ngo Huu Vuong won the men’s 10-meter running target mixed, while teammate Nguyen Van Tung took silver. Vietnam also took gold and silver in men’s 50-meter rifle 3 position, and team golds in 10-meter running target and 50-meter rifle 3 position.

Vietnam also took golds in judo, fin swimming, wrestling and shuttlecock, which is similar to badminton but played with the feet.

Perennial world badminton power Indonesia advanced into the semifinals with two victories in women’s singles and one in mixed doubles but was knocked out in two men’s singles matches.

Indonesian coach Christian Hadinata predicted his team would walk away with three golds, but noted it faced tougher-than ever competition from Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

“Our juniors aren’t yet ready for top competition,” he said of a team in the process of transition.