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SEA Games athletes bring home medals

Cambodia’s dragon boat racers found themselves at the deep end as the two men’s teams graced the rear of the five-boat races on the penultimate day of the 26th SEA Games yesterday. As Myanmar’s total dominance of the Cipule Regatta course in East Karawang continued, Cambodia’s dismal show was manifest in both the men’s 10+1+1 event over 1,000 metres and the 20+1+1 race over 1,200 metres.

At Ranau Hall of the Jakabaring Sports Centre in Palembang, the Kingdom’s gymnasts were put to a stern test as the trio of Sor Sopheng Sum Srorn and Veas Sarith came up well short in a field of just four teams.

Going into the routines section in last place, Cambodia could only muster a combined score of 18.725, well below the three medallists above them. Vietnam picked up gold with 20.792, ahead of Thailand (20.584) and Indonesia (19.324).

With most of the teams trudging back home after an 11-day stint, Cambodia has only a token presence in the grand closing ceremony planned for today.

But the Kingdom’s sporting circles are already hailing this year’s Games as a trend setting success. Since its SEA Games revival in the early 1990s, Cambodia’s best medals haul of three golds, 10 silver and 27 bronze medals was recorded in the 2009 edition in Vientiane.

Cambodia has now increased that gold count to four and added an extra silver, although the delegation came back a medal less overall on 39.

Led by Ly Boramy’s double gold strike, the nation’s performance in vovinam surpassed all expectations throwing up the highest number of 12 medals even as Cambodia’s traditional strengths, wrestling and boxing, failed to measure up to pre-Games estimates. While the Cambodian grapplers returned with five bronze medals, the boxers could only pluck three from the ring.

Shorinji Kempo is another not so glitzy martial arts form to boost the country’s pride. Belying predictions, kempo accounted for eight medals including a gold and a silver.

The talented Sovan Kiri is already a household name following his gold winning performance and the kempo camp is confident that the good result is a definite shot in the arm for this Japanese discipline in the Kingdom.

Cambodia continued to reap rich rewards from the petanque court with Or Chan Daren and Yim Sophorn turning in a golden efforts. In total, petanque provided four medals though form pundits had predicted a few more for the team.

Taekwondo was a notable disappointment for Cambodia. On the strength of the team’s excellent showing in the ASEAN Championships earlier this year, a gold medal or two seemed in order.

However, Sorn Davin had to settle for the team’s only silver after a gutsy fight in her final. There were just three more bronze medals as many of the favoured fighters went out in the quarterfinal stages.

The medal returns from Judo were also not as good as the country had hoped – just one silver coming off the mat for the Kingdom’s judokas.

Cambodian tennis missed out on individual bronze which Tan Nysan had managed to achieve in back-to-back SEA Games since 2007. Both Bun Kenny and Andrea Ka were quarterfinal casualties.

The Kingdom’s pride, however, was restored when Bun Kenny and Orn Sambath ensured a bronze medal in the men’s team competition. This is Cambodia’s first tennis team medal in nearly 15 years.

Cambodia went without a medal in 11 of the 20 disciplines but a marginal rise in the nation’s gold and silver standards will perhaps keep the mood buoyant back home.

Yesterday’s dramatic conclusion of the men’s football tournament saw the host's dream run to the final suffer the cruelest of endings when reigning champions Malaysia edged them 5-4 after penalties.

With the game finishing locked at 1-1 after first half goals for each side, a goalless extra time took it to the dreaded spotkicks. Indonesia gave their home fans the first fright when their second strike bounced out off the inside of the post,but Malaysia had their third kick saved to level off the tallies.

A final penalty save by their keeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat set up the winning goal, which agonisingly crept through the fingers of Indonesia's Kurnia Mega Herman.

With the victory, Malaysia retained their title and claimed their fifth winner's trophy, as Indonesia failed to repeat their home success of 1987.

Earlier at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Myanmar thumped 2009 runners up Vietnam 4-1 to capture the bronze.

It was first occasion that all 11 ASEAN nations had competed in the same competition.

As the curtain comes down on the 26th SEA Games, the torch will pass on to Myanmar for the 27th edition in 2013.

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