Sport

Published: Saturday December 14, 2013 MYT 5:37:00 PM
Updated: Saturday December 14, 2013 MYT 5:39:47 PM

Choon Sieng to face Viet challenge in 20km walk

Loo Choon Sieng in a file photo. He will face stiff competition from the Vietnamese walkers in the men's 20km walk at the SEA Games.

Loo Choon Sieng in a file photo. He will face stiff competition from the Vietnamese walkers in the men's 20km walk at the SEA Games.

NAYPYITAW: Loo Choon Sieng can expect a strong challenge from his Vietnamese rivals as he seeks to deliver the first gold medal for Malaysia in the men’s 20km walk.

The track and field events begin on Sunday at the Wunna Theikdi Main Stadium and 45 gold medals are at stake in the five-day competition.

The Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) have set a target of five golds in the Games.

The Malacca walker won the gold in Palembang two years ago but is ranked only second in South-East Asia now.

Vietnam’s Nguyen Thanh Ngung, who clocked a personal best of 1’27:30 to break the Vietnam national record in the Asian Walking championships in Nomi City, Japan, in March, is the top-ranked walker in the region.

The 21-year-old Thanh Ngung finished sixth in Nomi City while Choon Sieng ended up seventh after clocking 1’28:07.

Vietnam have another good walker in Vo Xuan Vinh, who has clocked 1’30:00.

And the Vietnamese walkers are bent on ending Malaysia’s domination in the event.

Thanh Ngung underwent a two-month training stint in China to prepare for the Games.

Two years ago in Palembang, Thanh Ngung won the bronze in the men’s 20km event in 1’35:48.

Malaysian have dominated the walk events for the past 11 SEA Games – 22 years.

The 28-year-old Choon Sieng, who was disqualified in the Islamic Solidarity Games in Palembang in October, however, is still optimistic that he can defend the gold.

“Although I was disqualified in Palembang for floating, I will deliver the first gold for Malaysia in athletics,” vowed Choon Sieng.

“The Vietnamese may have clocked a better time and beaten me in Nomi City, but I doubt he will be able to beat me again.”

National coach V. Subramaniam admitted that the Vietnam walkers have shown improvement over the last two years and would pose a big threat to Choon Sieng.

“Vietnam have two good walkers who have been clocking good times in competitions. Choon Sieng will have work hard to beat them for the gold,” said Subramaniam, who won six SEA Games golds in walking event from 1977 to 1989.

Malaysia’s other walker competing in the 20km event is Mohd Khairil Harith Harun.

Two Malaysian runners – S. Kannathasan and Mohd Arif Zulhilmi Alet – will feature in the men’s 400m heats on Sunday.

Tags / Keywords: Loo Choon Sieng, athletics, Malaysia, Myanmar Naypyitaw, Nyapidaw, 20km walk

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