Malaysia reigns supreme at SEA Games with 145 gold medals

Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony for the 29th Southeast Asian Games at Bukit Jalil stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 31 August 2017
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Malaysia reigns supreme at SEA Games with 145 gold medals

KUALA LUMPUR: Host Malaysia has won 145 gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games to emerge as overall champion for the first time in 16 years, making it a double celebration in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of its independence from British rule.
The medal bounty exceeded Malaysia’s record of 111 golds in the 2001 games that it last hosted, and comes as a bonus ahead of its Independence Day celebration on Thursday.
Thailand, which was champion in four of the last five games, had 72 gold medals.
Vietnam had 58, Singapore 57, Indonesia 38, Philippines 24, Myanmar 7, Cambodia 3 and Laos 2. The sultanate of Brunei and new state Timor Leste (East Timor) failed to win any gold in the region’s largest multi-sports event that ended with a closing ceremony Wednesday.
The biennial Games, which started in 1959, covers a wide range of sports, many that are on the Olympic program. It also includes sports distinct to the region such as the pencak silat martial art, sepak takraw that is played with a rattan ball, and Thai kickboxing muay thai.
Malaysia’s medal haul was a big jump from the 62 golds they won at the 2015 games in Singapore, but it is not surprising as host countries can tailor the program to match their strength. In 2007, Thailand took 183 out of 477 on home soil while host Indonesia finished with 182 out of 554 in 2011.
The next SEA Games will be contested in the Philippines in 2019.
Malaysia’s organization and some games results attracted controversy.
Indonesia accused Malaysia of cheating in the pencak silat competition after two Malaysians won gold in the men’s artistic doubles. Indonesia team manager Edhy Prabowo alleged that the duo, who had lost many times to Indonesia, were awarded an unfairly high score.
The allegation came after a gaffe by Malaysia in printing the Indonesian flag upside down in a souvenir guidebook for the games. The error made the red-and-white Indonesian flag resemble Poland’s and caused anger in Indonesia, where “shameonyoumalaysia” became the most popular hashtag on Twitter.
Malaysia was quick to apologize for the “unintentional” mistake and said it would reprint the guide books.
In athletics, a Malaysian woman was criticized after she overtook a Vietnamese competitor to win the gold medal in a women’s walk event by apparently running in the final stretch to the finish line. Officials also complained that games venue and timing were changed at the last minute.


Maria Sharapova looks back to her best as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal show no signs of slowing down

Updated 18 January 2019
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Maria Sharapova looks back to her best as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal show no signs of slowing down

  • Sharapova dumps out defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
  • Rafa and Roger brush aside young guns in straight sets victories.

LONDON: It is coming up to the end of the first week of the Australian Open, so we thought we would take a look and see how some of the big names fared on day five of the year’s first Grand Slam.

MARIA SHARAPOVA

Maria Sharapova warned she is in the sort of form to win the Australian Open after she dumped Carolina Wozniacki out with an impressive 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win. It was the Russian’s best win since her return from a drugs ban and she looked like a winner-in-waiting.
“I thought the level was quite high. I knew I’d get a tough match — she (Wozniacki) is the defending champion,” the five-time Slam champion said.
“I haven’t played many matches in the last year against top players so it was really rewarding to win that last set. These are the kinds of matches I train for.”



ROGER FEDERER

Ageless Roger Federer marked his 100th Rod Laver Arena match Friday by storming past Taylor Fritz, then looked forward to a “high quality” last-16 clash against another young gun, Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion continued his quest for a record seventh Australian Open title with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 third-round demolition of 21-year-old American Fritz in just 88 minutes of flawless tennis.
Next up is 14th seed Tsitsipas. And the 37-year-old Federer is looking forward to taking on the fiery young Greek, who is 17 years his junior.
Federer played him in the recent mixed teams Hopman Cup, winning a closely contested singles 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), and said he was impressed.
“I think he played really well there. I actually did too. I thought it was really high quality tennis,” Federer said.
“This is obviously a different type of match, it being best of five, it being a fourth round of a Slam.”



RAFAEL NADAL

Rafael Nadal declared “everything is a step forward” after brutally brushing aside Alex de Minaur at the Australian Open Friday in just the Spaniard’s third match since the US Open.
The world No. 2 was in ominous form as he continued his quest for an 18th Grand Slam by punishing the Australian teenager in a third-round tennis masterclass 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
“In general terms, everything is a step forward. So that’s positive news for me,” said the man who won the Aussie Open in 2009.
“I’m very happy for the victory against someone who had won seven matches in a row, winning a tournament.”
On his fitness Nadal added: “Probably 10 years ago it would have been difficult not playing much tennis in the build-up but now I have been in this situation many times with the injuries I have had.
“I have to deal with the ups and downs of my body but I try to enjoy any moment on the court.”



MARIN CILIC

The former US Open champions was made to work for his place in the last 16 as he struggled to beat Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-3. Verdasco showed glimpses of the form that once made him a top-10 player and had a match point, one he frittered away with a double fault.
I was just slightly luckier in those crucial moments,” the sixth-seeded Cilic said.
“(It is) unbelievable. Emotions were up and down,” Cilic said.
“When I was down two sets to none, it was a big hill to climb.”
It’s the seventh time in Cilic’s career that he has emerged to win a match after dropping the opening two sets.



ANGELIQUE KERBER

Second seed Kerber received a gift ride into the Australian Open fourth round for her 31st birthday when she overpowered local wildcard Kimberly Birrell 6-1, 6-0.
The Wimbledon champion swept world No. 240 Birrell aside in just 58 minutes to set up a last-16 clash with unseeded American Danielle Collins.
Kerber, a winner at Melbourne Park in 2016, said she was used to celebrating her birthday on the road at the season-opening Grand Slam.
“I think it’s the 12th time in a row,” she said. “I’m getting older but I have the best time here and I’ll never forget my birthdays here in Australia.”
Kerber reached the semifinals last year but lost to Simona Halep in a tight three-setter.