Let the Games begin: Flying diver ignites cauldron

The SEA Games torch is lit during the glittering opening ceremony. (Reuters)
Updated 19 August 2017
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Let the Games begin: Flying diver ignites cauldron

KUALA LUMPUR: Teenage diver Nur Dhabitah Sabri flew through Malaysia’s national stadium in a brave stunt to light the cauldron at the climax of a glittering Southeast Asian Games opening ceremony on Saturday.
The 18-year-old rising star was suspended high above the Bukit Jalil stadium floor in Kuala Lumpur, carrying a flaming torch, at the end of the four-hour extravaganza.
Earlier a flying tiger, shiny gold suits and a parade of marching bands took center stage as the two-week Games opened in a blaze of color.
More than 4,000 athletes from 11 nations strode into the newly refurbished, 87,000-capacity Bukit Jalil stadium, which was sold out for the vibrant show.
Torrential rain early on failed to dampen enthusiasm as the hosts put on an entertaining spectacle before Malaysia’s king, Sultan Muhammad V, declared the Games open.
About 4,200 athletes are competing for 404 gold medals in sports ranging from boxing and equestrianism to petanque, speed skating and lawn bowls at the popular and unique SEA Games.
Games mascot Rimau, a fluffy Malayan tiger, flew into the stadium on a wire, after LED-lit pedal cars and flag-wavers wearing glittering gold suits had entertained the crowd.
Fans watched video messages from Malaysia’s badminton and squash stars Lee Chong Wei and Nicol David, who are busy with world championships commitments, and cheered the succession of marching bands.
After the Games had been declared open, the stadium erupted in song as hundreds of dancers waving silver palm trees and waving red-lit parasols gave the event a carnival atmosphere.
Olympic silver medal-winning diver Pandelela Rinong passed the flaming torch to Nur Dhabita, who took off slowly toward the 40-foot (12-meter) cauldron and lit it, setting off a blaze of fireworks.
The biennial SEA Games, formerly the Southeast Asian Peninsula Games, have been running since 1959, when the region was still emerging from its long era of colonialism.
Malaysia, who have given the 29th edition the tagline “Rising Together,” are aiming to top the medals table for only the second time by matching the 111 golds they won on home soil in 2001.
Ahead of the opening ceremony, they have already made a strong start with seven golds to lead the table ahead of Singapore and Thailand, who both have three.
The Games retain a distinctly regional flavour, with Olympic sports like swimming and athletics contested alongside Asian favorites such as pencak silat, sepak takraw and wushu.
They are a big source of national pride in the fast-growing region of about 650 million people, which all too often finds itself outclassed on the world sporting stage.


LIVE: Mohamed Salah in the side as Egypt face Russia

Updated 4 min 55 sec ago
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LIVE: Mohamed Salah in the side as Egypt face Russia

8.55PM: The anthems have been sung - a rousing rendition from the Russians - and we're ready to get this game under way...

8.50PM: And here he is — Salah is out warming up and looking ok, well at least from out vantage he is...

 

8.40PM: At the risk of stating the obvious, all eyes will be on Salah tonight. In Saint Petersburg, the city of Russian royalty, can he live up to the mantle of Egyptian King? There's little doubting Cuper's side need him to be at or near his best, can his shoulder take the strain, both literally and metaphorically? 

For Russia the lineup is as expected, Cheryshev starts having come of the bench against Saudi Arabia and scored a brilliant brace. 

 

8.30PM: Both lineups are out here they are...

RUSSIA Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov,  Zobnin, Gazinsky, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev, Dzyuba. Subs:  Lunev, Semenov, Kuzyaev, Dzagoev, Smolov, Kudryashov, Granat,  Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Smolnikov, Gabulov.

EGYPT El Shenawy, Fathi, Gabr, Hegazi, Abdel-Shafy, Hamed,  Elneny, Salah, Said, Trezeguet, Mohsen. Subs: El Hadary,  Elmohamady, Gaber, Morsy, Kahraba, Ashraf, Sobhi, Hamdy,  Shikabala, Samir, Warda, Ekramy. 

 

8.20PM: There is little doubt the return of Salah will give the Pharaohs a big boost, just a quick glance at his stats during his record-breaking season at Liverpool will tell you why.. 

 

 

8PM — BIG NEWS: Egypt go into the crunch clash against Russia knowing defeat will all but end their hopes of making it to the second round, but also buoyed by the return of their talisman, Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian ace has been named, as expected, in Hector Cuper’s starting XI to face the hosts in Saint Petersburg having missed the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday.
It may be expecting too much to expect the 26-year-old to provide the spark so missing from Egypt’s loss to the South Americans — there is still some confusion over just how well his shoulder has recovered since injuring it in the Champions League final — but there is little doubt that for all the side’s calm and poise in possession they lacked a cutting edge and Cuper is doubtless hoping Salah can provide it this evening.
The hosts come into the match relaxed and, thanks to the Salah show, not the center of attention. Their 5-0 opening-day win over Saudi Arabia has both removed doubts about the side’s ability and set them up well for a stab at making the knockout stages.
Can Salah upset their home party? The next few hours will tell.