Singapore puts its stamp on SEA Games; Thailand ends No 1
SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore put its final stamp on the Southeast Asian Games with an eclectic closing ceremony involving a parade of oversize postage stamps to commemorate the island’s history.
The host wrapped up the competition program on a high earlier Tuesday, beating Indonesia 15-10 for the men’s water polo gold medal to extend its streak to 26 titles since the sport was introduced at the SEA Games.
“We are delighted to win this,” said Singapore’s Yip Yang, who scored four goals. “We expected a tough fight and that was what they gave us — the play was definitely rougher than expected, but everything else was probably within our calculations.”
The biennial mini-Olympic event featuring 11 nations is the highlight of the sports calendar for many in an ASEAN area that is home to more than 600 million people.
Thailand topped the standings again, as expected, with 95 gold, but the medals were more evenly spread than in the last edition at Myanmar in 2013.
Singapore led the medal standings for the first week, with U.S.-based swimmer Joseph Schooling winning nine gold medals in the pool as he prepared for the world championships, helping his country to shatter its previous record tally of 50 gold medals set the last time it hosted the SEA Games in 1993.
Singapore finished with more medals overall, 259 to Thailand’s 247. Vietnam and Malaysia each won 186 medals, and Indonesia 182, but Vietnam placed third with 73 gold medals, followed by Malaysia (62), Indonesia (47), Philippines (29), Myanmar (12) and Cambodia (1). Laos, Brunei and East Timor didn’t get atop the podium.
The delegation leaders for Singapore, Tan Eng Liang and Nicholas Fang, issued a joint statement praising the national team for “fantastic efforts to make this a successful SEA Games” in the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence.
The team has “inspired the entire nation repeatedly over the past 18 days, what a great way to mark Singapore’s jubilee.”
Thailand already had an unassailable lead in the gold medal standings heading into the last day, and added a few more just for good measure, with Busanan Ongbumrungpan winning the women’s badminton singles final 21-17, 21-12 over Hanna Ramadini of Indonesia, and winning the men’s volleyball final over Vietnam 25-20, 25-19, 25-23.
Chong Wei Feng won the men’s badminton singles with a 21-8, 21-9 win over fellow Malaysian Mohamad Arif Latif, and Malaysia also won the women’s doubles.
While Schooling’s impressive nine wins from nine events in the swimming dominated local attention, there were other notable performances around the games.
Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, an 18-year-old swimmer from Vietnam, won eight gold medals, a silver, and a bronze after qualifying for 12 finals from her 13-event program.
Thailand beat Vietnam 3-0 to capture its 15th gold medal — and 10th in the last 12 tournaments — in men’s football, while Philippines extended a phenomenal run with its 17th gold medal in the basketball — a streak broken only once since the sport was introduced to the games.
Aaliyah Yoong, an 11-year-old waterskier from Malaysia, became the youngest person to claim a golden double at the SEA Games, winning the women’s tricks and women’s overall titles at the Bedok Reservoir. She already held the record for being the youngest champion ever at the SEA Games — she won the tricks title in 2011 at age 8.
New sports are set to be added when the games are held in Malaysia in 2017, with some suggesting ice skating and ice hockey in a program that regularly highlights sports with regional roots such as sepak takraw and pencak silat. With the Yoong family on home water, there’s a good chance waterskiing will feature again.