Cambodia failed to add any medals yesterday at the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar, with its tally currently standing at four golds, seven silvers and 12 bronzes to occupy eighth place in the 11-nation medal table.
Thailand broke away from its rivals at the top with 55 golds, while hosts Myanmar and Vietnam were both on 39 golds. East Timor continued to plod on with just a single bronze to its name.
The men’s marathon, which started and finished in Naypyidaw’s Wunna Theikdi Stadium yesterday, almost saw controversial Japanese-born runner Kuniaki Takizaki grab a podium place.
The 36-year-old, who is better known in Japan as TV comic Neko Hiroshi, came home in 2 hours, 32 minutes and 54 seconds to take fourth – two and a half minutes off the pace of third-placed Eric Panique of the Philippines.
Singapore’s Ying Ren Mok won old with a time of 2:28:36, with Thaung Aye of Myanmar collecting silver by crossing the line in 2:29:50.
Takizaki was slammed by the Japanese media last year for his pursuit of a place in the London Olympics marathon. Despite being granted Cambodian citizenship in October 2011 and the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia giving him the nod for a wildcard ahead of local long- distance legend Hem Bunting, the International Association of Athletics Federations ruled Takizaki ineligible to compete in London.
Hem Bunting set a personal best of 2:23:29 at the Paris marathon in April 2012 but has remained out of favour with the Khmer Amateur Athletics Federation and the NOCC.
Across town at the Wunna Theikdi Swimming Pool, the Cambodian contingent concluded a challenging competition in which they failed to come close to a medal.
In the men’s 200m freestyle heats yesterday, Maximov Chamraen Youri was nearly 17 seconds off the best time of 1 minute 57.10 seconds posted by Malaysia’s Daniel Bego.
Hem Thon Vithiny and Seng Samphors were marginally better than last-placed Veomany Siriphone of Laos in the women’s 50m freestyle heats but still well off the qualifying mark.
The Cambodian women’s hockey team lost 15-0 to Indonesia yesterday at the Yangon Hockey Field, which was at least an improvement on their previous two obliterations by Thailand and Malaysia in the tournament.
Hopes for more medals – and reaching the NOCC’s target of 10 golds in Myanmar – now rest on the shoulders of the remaining petanque players and the martial arts squads.
The men’s and women’s shooting and mixed doubles will wrap up today at the Petanque Arena in Naypyidaw. Shorinji Kempo starts today, vovinam and judo tomorrow, and taekwondo on Thursday, with all four disciplines expected to yield glory for the Kingdom.
Philippines protests lost gold
Meanwhile, the Philippines said yesterday it had protested a decision by officials at the SEA Games to strip a Filipina swimmer of her gold medal, the latest controversy surrounding the games.
The move comes after the Philippines questioned the huge number of obscure sports at the Myanmar games which seem designed to ensure that the host countries and its allies reap the most medals.
The Philippine Olympic Committee said it had sent a letter asking that swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi be given back her gold. Alkhaldi, 20, won the 100m freestyle last Thursday, but it was quickly taken back after Thailand protested, saying there had been a “false start”. AFP