KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22, (AFP): Olympic swimming champion Joseph Schooling grabbed his second gold of the Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday as hosts Malaysia capped a medal-laden day when teenager Khairul Hafiz was crowned the region’s fastest man.
Schooling, Singapore’s first Olympic gold-medallist after his 100m butterfly win in Rio last year, led his team-mates to a commanding 4x100m freestyle relay victory in a Games-record 3min 17.85sec.
Texas-based Schooling is targeting six gold medals in Kuala Lumpur after a winless world championships in July, and he now has two titles in two nights after his 50m butterfly victory a day earlier.
But Schooling, who admitted he felt a little tired after Monday’s race, said he was just happy to help Singapore win another swimming title.
“It’s a great feeling. I just tried to do my best for my team, tried to get them ahead,” Schooling said. “I’m glad we could get a new record and win.”
There were more successes for Singapore as Roanne Ho clinched the women’s 50m breaststroke in a tournament-record 31.29, and Quah Zheng Wen won the men’s 200m butterfly in 1:57.95.
Vietnam’s “Little Mermaid” Nguyen Thi Anh Vien set a new Games record of 2:13.64 in the women’s 200m backstroke and also won the 400m freestyle to reach three gold medals for the competition.
But the busiest day so far, with 45 titles on offer, belonged to Malaysia, who scored wins across a swathe of events and then took the big prize on the first night of the athletics competition.
Khairul, who is just 19, upset defending champion Eric Cray to win the men’s 100m in 10.38, five-hundredths ahead of the Filipino-American who earlier won the 400m hurdles.
Malaysia’s Muhammad Irfan won discus gold, and home favourite Zaidatul Husniah took silver in the women’s 100m behind Vietnamese runner Le Tu Chinh, who timed 11.56.
Earlier Malaysia won the men’s team time trial cycling ahead of Thailand, and in gymnastics Tan Fu Jie and Jeremiah Loo shared men’s pommel horse gold and Tan Ing Yueh won the women’s vault.
The hosts also took gold in men’s and women’s karate, wushu, petanque, mixed doubles bowling and the women’s 25m pistol. Late on Tuesday they had 37 gold medals, ahead of Singapore on 19.
Malaysia even vanquished royal opposition when they won the team dressage ahead of a Thai outfit led by Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Vajiralongkorn, competing on her horse Prince Charming.
In the polo competition, Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin survived a couple of falls from his horse as he helped Malaysia to a 12-4 polo win over a Brunei team featuring Prince Abdul Mateen and Princess Azemah Bolkiah.