IN the early hours of yesterday morning, veteran walker Teoh Boon Lim got the ball rolling towards a day that ended with another four gold medals in the bag as Malaysia's tally in the 25th Sea Games in Laos rose to 27 gold, 29 silver and 44 bronze medals.
It was 32-year-old Boon Lim's third gold medal as Malaysia continued their dominance in men's walking events, while the women's event ended without a Malaysian winner for the first time in 18 years when Nurliana Rusli only managed fourth.
World Championships bronze medallist Diana Bong then put in a world class performance to deliver the women's nanquan (southern style) gold in the wushu arena, bringing a sigh of relief at the wushu camp after ending the two previous days with only minor medals to show.
That rhythm then flowed into the archery field when another world class performance from Cheng Chu Sian brought home the men's individual recurve gold medal with an easy victory over Zaw Win Htike of Myanmar to successfully defend the gold medal he won in Korat two years ago.
The field events at the Main Stadium of the National Sports Complex was a fitting arena for Malaysia to close their gold medal count for the day with a bang, as 23-year-old Tan Song Hwa took five throws to register her winning hammer throw in a Sea Games and national record distance.
It was due reward for Song Hwa after ending the two previous editions in disappointment.
There were also the close calls with archer S. Anbarasi pipped by a mere two points to the gold in the women's individual recurve by Indonesia's Novia Noriani. Then a surprise by a pair of teenagers at the shooting range provided a lift for the thus far misfiring Malaysians.
Without a gold medal to show yet from this Sea Games, the shooting squad rooted for 17-year-old Hadafi Jaafar and 16-year-old Nurrahimin Abdul Halim when they joined Zubair Muhammad for a surprise silver in the men's rifle three position team event.
Malaysia stayed on course for the National Sports Council's 35 gold medal target with more expected to be delivered by the silat and wushu exponents, as well as the archers today. Shooter Hasli Izwan Amir Hasan also starts as the favourite in the men's 25m rapid fire event. NSC director general Datuk Zolkples Embong said the contingent is well on course towards delivering the target, albeit with some disappointments.
"There have been some disappointments like shooting and sepaktakraw, but while this has happened, in other areas some sports like aquatics and karate surpassed their targets to make up for those we lost," said Zolkples.
"Our target was between 30 and 35 gold medals. I can say that 30 gold medals would not be a problem. We might even surpass 35." NST