Vietnamese National Sports Administration Deputy Head Tran Duc Phan has named Indonesia amongst one of their likeliest adversaries in their bid for a top 3 finish at the 28th SEA Games. Photo: John Yeong/SINGSOC
As the 28th SEA Games draws closer, we bring you weekly highlights from news headlines splashed across the region’s sports back pages.
With just a month to go till the start of the SEA Games, the region’s teams have been working harder than ever to prepare for the competition. Whether it’s ensuring that they remain competitive or taking the initiative to foster stronger levels of competition, Southeast Asia’s national sports teams have proved to be an inspirational lot.
Brunei: Basketball team stands determined despite losses
Brunei’s national men’s basketball team remained in good spirits despite losing at the 11th Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship. Held in Singapore last week, the competition saw the Bruneians defeated in all five of their matches.
Captain Md Zainul Ashyraf Hj Hussin told the Brunei Times
: “It is unfortunate that we finished the tournament winless but we are inspired to join more international level competitions. We don’t want to just play the usual Borneo Cup; we want to compete more against the top teams in the region. All the players are feeling positive. We came out of every game with our heads up and always looked forward to the next match.”
Zainul named Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore as the region’s leading teams who had entered the tournament with their sights set on the gold medal. These nations eventually emerged top of the Championship’s medal table, in that order.
“It is not just about playing to get points and rebounds. As captain, I was trying to lead and change the mind-set of the players. I was confident and played at a high level. I really enjoyed what I was doing and played my heart out. Hopefully we can do it again and get better,” added Zainul, who earned the second-most number of rebounds at the meet, losing only to Ivan Yeo of Malaysia.
Myanmar: Chinlone federation helps improve rivals’ game
The Myanmar Times
has reported that Thailand’s chinlone squad will be training together in Myanmar with the home team, in a bid to ready themselves for the upcoming SEA Games and raise the overall standard of the sport in the region.
“The Thai team asked to visit Myanmar to assist in amending their game, so we were happy to invite them,” explained secretary of the Myanmar Chinlone Federation Zaw Maung Maung Myint, adding that the Federation’s objective was to “encourage [its] neighbours to continue to play the sport”.
The Burmese previously provided assistance, as well as their own coaches, to help the Thais become better accustomed to the updated regulations introduced to the sport, which was a non-competitive game prior to 2013.
Cambodia and Malaysia had also previously visited Nay Pyi Taw for chinlone training sessions.
Malaysia: Hockey squad cautious of Thai rivals
The Malaysian women’s hockey team has named Thailand as the biggest threat to their title hopes for the SEA Games, as revealed in The Star
. The defending regional champions reckoned that the Thai squad have been improving quickly of late, making a name for itself internationally.
“Singapore used to be the biggest threat to our chances at the SEA Games [but] that’s about to change this year. The Thais have made great strides and are focusing on becoming a major force in women’s hockey in the region,” commented Malaysia’s coach Mohd Nasihin Nubli.
Thailand secured a ticket to Round Two of the Hockey World League this year, for the first time in the team’s history, and made it to the semi-finals. They also impressed at the Asian Games last year.
This speedy progress may be, in part, attributed to their new head coach, Bae Young-wook of South Korea. Under the coach’s direction, the Thai ladies have been chalking up more experience through regular competitions and overseas training camps.
Nevertheless, Malaysia is working hard to counter this foe, and is excited that veteran star Siti Rahmah Othman will be making a comeback. The team, which will be playing friendly matches in Perth ahead of the SEA Games, may also field some up-and-coming junior players.
Vietnam: Training to fulfil the nation’s hopes
Another similarly competitive country would be Vietnam, as seen in the Vietnam News
. Targeting to bring home 60 to 70 gold medals, they hope to emerge as one of the best-performing nations at this year’s SEA Games.
“We have created the optimum conditions for Vietnamese athletes to train and reach their peak at the Games. We want to finish in the top three on the medals table,” quipped National Sports Administration deputy head Tran Duc Phan, who will also head the nation’s 420-strong Games delegation.
Vietnam, who named Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore as the adversaries likely to pose the biggest challenge to them, has sent 18 of its national squads on overseas training stints.
Among these medal hopefuls are Rio-bound swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, who is aiming for six gold medals, and 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships second-runner up Phan Thi Ha Thanh.
Singapore: Strength in numbers
Meanwhile, it appears that Singapore’s chances of winning more titles this June may have also increased. The nation has released its finalised list of SEA Games representatives recently, and the supersized crop of athletes announced will likely be a boost to medal hopes.
According to the Straits Times, this year’s contingent will be Singapore’s biggest to date, featuring a total of 748 athletes competing for medals in all 36 different sports.
Team Singapore will be holding a Flag Presentation Ceremony at the Sports Hub on 12th May at 6.30pm, so do go over to the OCBC Square to say hello to your favourite athletes if you happen to be in the area then!
All opinions expressed by various news agencies in this article are not representative of those of SINGSOC.