Hosts Myanmar made a clean sweep of the first two gold medals on offer in the 27th SEA Games after thrashing Thailand in the showdown of the Chinlone Men’s and Women’s Linking (Event 3) on Wednesday.
Just six days ahead of the opening ceremony of the 27th edition in Nay Pyi Taw, the host nation on Wednesday fared well in Chinlone, traditional sport in Myanmar played more than 1,500 years ago, to get the biennial sports extravaganza off to a brilliant start.
Chinlone features a team of six players passing the ball back and forth with their feet, knees and heads as they walk around a circle. One player goes into the center to solo, creating a dance of various moves strung together. The soloist is supported by the other players who try to pass the ball back with one kick. When the ball drops to the ground it is dead, and the play starts again.
Hosts Myanmar were so confident of winning the first gold of the SEA Games that they decided to bring their traditional sport to be contested on the opening day of the medal hunt.
Myanmar captured the first Games gold following their comfortable victory over Thailand in the final Chinlone Women’s Linking clash. In the morning qualifying round, the host side thrashed all challengers with an aggregate 514 points, followed by Thailand (363), Cambodia (157) and Malaysia (128). The top two teams from the qualifying round advanced to the showdown which saw the host nation remain in form to beat Thailand for their first Games gold. Thailand picked up silver, while Cambodia and Malaysia shared bronze medal.
Five teams comprising Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia and Singapore contested the men’s event. The host team still came up with their excellent form to collect massive 636 points in the morning qualifying round. Thailand still came in second place with 407 points, while Laos (344), Malaysia (246) and Singapore (156) finished third, fourth and fifth places respectively.
In the final showdown, Myanmar made their mark to score combined 660 points, relegating Thailand, which bagged 404 points, to the second position. Laos and Malaysia took the bronze medal.
Winning the gold medal, Myanmar’s players were on cloud nine. They celebrated their victory by carrying their flag around the stadium. For the Thai players, although they had to be content with two silver medals, one thing they could be proud of was that they were not only the first two medals of Thailand in the 27th SEA Games, but a total sum of Bt100,000 cash incentives from the National Sports Development Fund also awaits each Thai athlete returning from the Games with silver medal.