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Jakarta Post

SEA Games: Gold rush seals medals victory for Malaysia


    Agence France-Presse

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   /   Tue, August 29, 2017   /   08:42 pm
SEA Games: Gold rush seals medals victory for Malaysia Malaysian supporters pose for pictures before the start of the men's football final between Thailand and Malaysia during the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) at Shah Alam Stadium in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 29, 2017. (Agence France -Presse/Mohd Rasfan)

Malaysia clinched victory on the Southeast Games medals table on Tuesday as a rush of victories took the home nation to a record total -- and nearly one-third of the tournament's golds.

On a bumper penultimate day, with 60 gold medals up for grabs, Malaysia snared 22 to reach 133 for the tournament, putting an unbridgeable distance between them and the chasing pack.

Malaysia already have about one-third of the 404 gold medals at the mini-Olympics, smashing their previous record of 111 and sealing top spot for the first time in 16 years.

Thailand trailed on 69 golds and Vietnam had 58, meaning the second and third-placed teams totalled less than Malaysia between them.

The biennial SEA Games, now in their 29th edition, have a well-worn tradition of allowing the hosts to tailor the sporting programme to suit their strengths, meaning they often finish top.

Some of Malaysia's results have faced scrutiny, including in boxing, sepak takraw and pencak silat, and the #ShameOnYouMalaysia hashtag has been used by critics online.

Thailand's delegation chief Thana Chaiprasit also took aim at the hosts when he said: "They organise sports they are good at and do not organise sports other countries are good at."

Since Malaysia last hosted and topped the SEA Games in 2001, their biggest tally has been 68 gold medals in 2007. Two years ago in Singapore they won 62, finishing fourth.

But Malaysia's haul of gold medals isn't outlandish for the SEA Games. In 2007 Thailand won 183 out of 477 on home soil, and in 2011 host nation Indonesia finished with 182 out of 554.

On Tuesday the home team had wins in badminton, sailing, diving, pencak silat, muay kick-boxing, speed skating and water ski and wakeboarding. Malaysia's polo team, which features the country's sports minister, also won gold.

Malaysia's men's football team play Thailand in the final later on Tuesday. The Games will end with a closing ceremony following a limited program on Wednesday.