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Thailand takes lead at SEA Games

Thailand takes lead at SEA Games
VIENTIANE, Laos (AP): Weightlifter Pitaya Tibnoke and cyclist Monrudee Chapookam won gold to put Thailand on top of the medal table at the Southeast Asian Games on Sunday.

Thailand leads the medal tally with 22 gold as the biennial tournament approaches halfway point. Vietnam is second with 21 gold, followed by Singapore with 19.

Pitaya was level with Myanmar’s Lin Htut Shwe in the men’s 85-kilogram class at a combined 331 and faced the prospect of settling for the silver medal because of his greater body weight.

After clearing 181 kg in his second clean and jerk attempt, the 20-year-old an emotionless Pitaya hoisted 182 on his third for a combined 332 kg.

Pitaya and Lin Htut Shwe both lifted 150 kg in the snatch to better the games record of 146 set by Indonesia’s Sandow Weldemar Nasution at Bacolod, Philippines in 2005.

Pitaya’s combined 332 was just 2 kg short of Sandow’s record total of 334.

Vietnam’s Tran Van Hoa took the bronze with a combined lift of 306 kg.

Despite winning gold, Pitaya said he was disappointed with his performance.

“Normally I am able to lift 190 kg during training in Bangkok,” he said.

Monrudee easily won the 30-kilometer individual time ahead of compatriot Chanpeng Nontasin for Thailand’s second gold of the fifth day.

Thailand is expected to extend its lead when the athletics events get under way later Sunday, while Singapore and Malaysia are favorites for medals in the pool, where seven events are scheduled.

On Saturday night, Malaysian high school student Daniel Bego overcame a shoulder injury to swim to two gold medals in a pool that has produced six Southeast Asian Games records.

Bego set two of the records in the 400-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly, while Singaporean swimmers claimed the other four. Indonesia’s Glenn Victor won the seventh race.

“I guess the injury didn’t affect my performance. Mentally, I blocked it out,” said Bego, who also won the 100 freestyle Friday.

Singapore’s Tao Li, who migrated from China years ago, set records in women’s 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly. Compatriot Lynette Lim won the 800 freestyle, while the Singapore men took the 4×100 freestyle relay.

Singapore has won 10 of the 20 swimming golds contested so far. Malaysia is its closest rival with six.

Bego was receiving treatment for his two-year-old shoulder injury until the day he arrived in Vientiane. He paced his 400 swim perfectly, taking the lead in the last 100 and pushing himself in the final 50.

“I told myself I have the endurance, I have the speed. I knew I just had to pace myself,” he said.

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