SWIMMER Daniel Bego was the spark Malaysia needed as they powered on towards the magical number of 35 gold medals in the 25th Sea Games in Laos, closing yesterday's events with a tally of 23 gold, 27 silver and 25 bronze medals.
The diving squad completed their sweep of six out of eight gold medals on offer when Leong Mun Yee and Ng Yan Yee made their new combination work like a well-polished machine as they delivered the 3m springboard synchronised gold medal to close the diving campaign.
And last night the crowd at the National Sports Complex aquatics centre in Vientiane were left in amazement as Daniel chased back from the brink of defeat to deliver the final two of his five gold medals in the 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly.
Those two, added to 20-year-old Sarawakian Daniel's earlier gold medals in the 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle and the 100m butterfly, and the bronze medal he won as part of the 4x200m freestyle quartet, made this the best
The footballers too turned on the power when needed as they beat Laos 3-1 to book their place in the final. They play Vietnam in what will be Malaysia's first final since 2001.
This also means the players are one match away from ending the gold medal drought that started in 1989.
On the downside yesterday, the cycling team returned one of the country's worst ever performance, ending their campaign with just a silver from the women's road race through Noor Azian Alias and two bronze medals.
The men's road race saw Zamri Salleh coming home with a bronze medal.
In a silat arena that turned chaotic after several teams alleged fixing by judges in the 'seni ganda' competition, in which Malaysia took a bronze through Hafiz Mohd Arif and Helmi Abdul Aziz.
The tanding bouts at the silat venue too didn't turn out as expected with three exponents only managing bronze medals.
The sepaktakraw regu of Noor Azman Hamid, Hamikhairi Roslan and Mohd Syafiq Abdul Rahman returned with a bronze medal having already gone through the humiliation of losing to Laos, before losing to favourites Thailand on Saturday.
They beat Vietnam and the Philippines yesterday in matches that left their fate in the hands of Laos, who had to lose to the Philippines in order for them to make the final.
Laos beat the Philippines in straight sets and went on to win the silver medal. NST