Thai reign looks set to end in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur: It is highly unlikely that Thailand will retain the overall title at the 29th SEA Games, according to the country’s officials.

Thailand, in white, play Vietnam in a women’s football match of the SEA Games.

At press time last night, Thailand were fourth in the medal standings behind leaders Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore.

The Thais are well behind the hosts with four days to go.

Thailand were crowned overall champions at the 2015 Games in Singapore with 95 gold medals ahead of the hosts (84) and Vietnam (73).

The Thais are targeting 109 gold medals at the Kuala Lumpur Games, which officially began last Saturday.

“We have missed several gold medals and our situation [in the medal race] does not look good,” Thailand’s delegation chief Thana Chaiprasit said yesterday.

“I think we will get around 80 gold medals which would be about 20 percent below our target of 109 golds.”

While Thailand only have themselves to blame for missing out on gold medals in several events, the hosts are also at an advantage, Thana said.

“They organise sports they are good at and do not organise sports other countries are good at,” he said.

Among the sports at KL 2017 are squash, ice hockey and figure skating.

At the same time, there was only men’s boxing with six weight classes as the women’s event was axed from the programme.

At the same time, some countries, particularly Vietnam, have made progress, Thana said.

“The Vietnamese trained in China and Russia,” he said.

“I said after the end of the previous SEA Games that we had to be careful about Vietnam. We now have seen how far they have progressed.”

At the end of Friday, Vietnam’s “Little Mermaid” Nguyen Thi Anh Vien had already won seven gold medals in swimming.

Vietnam pipped Thailand on goal difference to win the women’s football gold medal after a round-robin competition although Thailand complained that they lost to Malaysia’s “tricks” to help Vietnam win the title.

Thailand drew 1-1 drew with Vietnam during the tournament.

The Thai women, who were defending champions in the 4x100m relay race, also had to settle for silver after losing to Vietnam.

Thailand are traditionally strong in sprint but they failed to take golds in the men and women’s 100m and 200m, and women’s 4x100m relay.

“When we return home, we have to look at our mistakes and solve problems seriously,” Thana said.