Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Hungover Vietnam enjoys opening day of SEA Games


Vietnamese woke up bleary-eyed yesterday after a night of massive celebrations for a soccer triumph, setting the stage for formal festivities opening the first Southeast Asian Games staged in Vietnam.

The Philippines and Singapore secured their first gold medals here yesterday, but local attention remained on the 1-0 win over Indonesia the previous night, a gymnastics victory and the opening ceremony later in the evening.

Tens of thousands of people poured onto the streets with national flags and rode motorcycles in victory laps in downtown Hanoi on Thursday night after Vietnam's team moved within a match of the soccer semifinals at the 22nd SEA Games.

The host nation marked the official opening day yesterday with gold in the women's gymnastics team event, scoring 124.55 points to edge Singapore by 0.125 and setting a stylistic benchmark for the thousands of performers involved in the opening ceremonies.

The 40,000-seat National Stadium was sold out, with government officials, special guests and regular citizens clamoring to witness Vietnam's debut as host of a major international sports event.

The Philippines' first gold medal in Hanoi was unexpected, with the women's archery team rallying for a 218-211 upset over Malaysia after knocking off top-seeded Indonesia in the semifinals.

The Philippines trailed Malaysia 74-68 after the first round and 145-139 after the second before Jasmin Figueroa, with a final round 28 out of a possible 30, and Jennifer Chan, with a 27, secured the win.

"I thought a gold medal was coming my way today after winning a silver medal in the individual event. ... I am very sad with the defeat," Malaysian archer Mon Redee told reporters. She lost out to an Indonesian in the first gold-medal match of the event.

But Mohamad Marbawi Sulaiman had won the men's individual event on Thursday and the Malaysians had been widely tipped to win a second gold in the women's team event.

Defending champion Singapore continued its dominating run in water polo at the SEA Games, beating Indonesia 11-4 to complete an undefeated five-match campaign here and ensure its 20th consecutive title.

Thailand (3-1-1) edged the Philippines 9-7 for the silver, while the Filipinos settled for bronze with two wins, two losses and a draw.

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