Cambodia’s Meun Sophea and Khun Dima courageously kickboxed their way to the gold medal round in their weight categories at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games as two compatriots, Vann Voeun and Lao Chetra, fell victims in the semifinals to poor decision-making by the judges in favour of their Malaysian rivals in the muay competition held at the MiTEC arena yesterday.
Sophea lived up to his reputation as a fearless fighter, never allowing his Malaysian rival Muhammad Samsi to settle down in the 71kg bout he took in style at 30-27.
In today’s final, Sophea will square off against Thailand’s Anuek K, who overcame Truong Quoc Hung of Vietnam in the other semifinal.
In the 63kg contest between two aggressive fighters, Dima’s better reach and speed of foot helped him deal effectively with Philippine hope Ryan Jakiri.
Landing telling blows when the opportunity arose, Dima completed a technical knockout (TKO) to make it to the title round, where he will meet Thailand’s Chonlawit P, who got the better of Von Van Dai in the second semifinal.
Getting into the ring in high spirits, Voeun (54kg) and Chetra (57kg) gave their all and appeared to have done more than enough, only to be dealt a severe blow at the end, not from their Malaysian rivals in the ring but from the judges in whose hands their victories rested.
Much to the chagrin of the Cambodian supporters and officials, Voeun lost out to local challenger Mohd Ali, while Chetra was ruled a loser against Ain. In both the fights the judges were seemingly swayed by the reaction of the crowd rather than the substance of the fight.
Silver in petanque
Cambodia’s duo of Sao Sophearann and Duon Dina lost their way from 8-8 to go down 13-8 in the final three minutes to Thailand’s Sarawut and Anupawan in the petanque mixed doubles final.
This was Cambodia’s first silver medal at the Games and followed the gold winning efforts of Ke Leng and Ouk Sreymom in the women’s doubles and bronze from the men’s team and triple events earlier.
Lively anticipation surrounded the announcement that Asian Games gold medalist and Rio Olympics qualifier Sorn Seavmey would take on Malaysia’s Sarawak state star Nurul Nur Hafizza in the women’s taekwondo 73kg Kyorugi contest today.
Since there are only four contestants in this weight category, each one of them are assured of at least a bronze medal even before they land a kick.
In the day’s other semifinal, the Philippines’ experienced Kirstie Elaine Alora, looking for her fourth straight SEA Games gold, will be up against a Lao fighter.
The rivalry between Seavmey and Alora is well known, and the two are tipped to fight for the gold – but there is one worrying element that is bothering Sevmey’s coach Choi Yong Sok.
In his pre-event analysis the coach said: “Seavmey is in good condition, but we do not know what will happen because she has to overcome the Malaysian fighter first before we think of Alora.”
“The Malaysians are doing everything to win gold. So we are concerned whether we will get the right points. Anyway, we will do our best.”
The other Cambodians in today’s “kyorugi” bouts in different weight divisions are Va Mithona, Unvin Socharangsey and Pan Khemra, while Cambodia will face Brunei in the men’s 3-on-3
Malaysia reach 100 golds
Malaysian rhythmic gymnast Amy Kwan delivered the hosts their 100th gold medal as the country closed in on its target of 111. With 63 silvers and 68 bronzes, Malaysia are a long way clear of the rest in the medals race with a total of 231.
Vietnam and Singapore are locked in close battle for second, while 2015 medal table toppers Thailand, crying foul over what they call Malaysia’s unfair practices, are trailing in fourth.