Monday, November 14, 2011

Choon Sieng makes up for his Laos Games heartbreak

PALEMBANG: There was sheer joy – and relief – written all over walker Lo Choon Sieng’s face when he finally won his first SEA Games gold medal in the 20km walk yesterday.

It was Malaysia’s third gold medal of the Games and the second in athletics after hammer thrower Tan Song Hwa’s triumph on Saturday.

The win more than makes up for his heartbreak two years ago when he was disqualified after crossing the finish line first in the Laos Games.

Choon Sieng, who has posted the best time in the region this year, was forced to wait a day longer before competing after the Games organisers postponed the 20km walk to pave the way for Indonesia to win the first athletics gold.

But there was no stopping the 26-year-old Malacca walker the moment the race began.
He stayed with the leading pack until the 10km mark before breaking away. And, in no time, he pulled away to cross the finish line in 1’32:34.

Indonesia’s Hendro came in second in 1’33:23 while Vietnamese youngster Ngu­yen Thanh Ngung took bronze in 1’35:48.

Choon Sieng’s success continued a fine tradition in an event Malaysia have dominated since 1997 and it also allowed him to step out of veteran Teoh Boon Lim’s shadow.
“It was quite a tough race with the strongest challenge coming from Boon Lim. But I felt confident and, after the 10km mark, I knew I had it in the bag,” said Choon Sieng.

“I crossed the finish line first in Laos two years ago but I was disqualified ... that was really disappointing. So, I’m really happy and satisfied with the gold after all the hard work I have put in.
“My time today wasn’t really important because the weather here is extremely hot and you get dehydrated very fast.

“I’m going to try and qualify for the London Olympics next year.”
Choon Sieng has a personal best of 1’27:36 while the Olympic qualifying time is 1’24:30. The qualifying period ends in May.

Meanwhile Boon Lim, the defending champion, simply ran out of gas against the younger and more energetic walkers to settle for fourth placing.


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