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Chinlone delivers first Games gold, thanks to Myanmar coaches

TO be the best, you learn from the best.

The move to bring in three chinlone coaches from Myanmar for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games paid off handsomely as Malaysia made a breakthrough with their first-ever gold in the sport.

The chinlone linking team of Muhd Faiz Roslan, Mohd Kamal Aizat Azmi, Putera Aidil Israfi, Muhd Asyraaf Hadi, Izuan Afendi, Mohd Nazuha Nadzli, Iskandar Zulkarnain Salim and Abdul Muhaimi Bongsu juggled their way to Malaysia’s first gold at these Games at the Titiwangsa Indoor Stadium yesterday.

Spurred on by a vociferous home crowd, Malaysia scored 391 points compared to the Philippines’ 271 total in the final.

Heroes of the day: The Malaysian chinlone players showing off their SEA Games gold medals after beating the Philippines in the linking event final at the Titiwangsa Indoor Stadium yesterday. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS / The Star

Earlier, Malaysia topped the preliminary stage with 376 points. The Filipinos earned the right to take on Malaysia for the gold match after chalking up 293 points. Brunei picked up the bronze with 157 points.

Chinlone is a caneball traditional sport popularly played in Myanmar and the linking event comprises six players performing six different skills in a circle.

The sport made its debut in Myanmar in 2013 with Myanmar always emerging champions.

Captain Faiz, who played in the preliminary round and final, said they were all fired up to deliver the first gold to spark the Malaysian contingent’s 111-gold chase to be the overall champions.

“At first, we felt the pressure as everyone was expecting us to win the gold in the absence of defending champions Myanmar.

Not the same: The Malaysian chinlone team in action during the same stroke event at the Titiwangsa Indoor Stadium yesterday.

“But after we reached the final, our confidence grew. The crowd also played a big part to encourage us to rise to the occasion,” said Faiz, who will also play in the non-repetition secondary event today.

Coach Yusof Abdullah was relieved the players performed to expectations.

“A big load is off my head now. This is our first gold in chinlone, thanks to our coaches from Myanmar. One of them, Khin Maung Win, was the former head coach for Myanmar.

“We hope this is not the only gold for us. We want to fight Thailand to win the non-repetition primary event tomorrow,” he said.

Malaysia are participating in all four categories – non repetition primary, same stroke, linking and non repetition secondary. The other countries are only allowed to participate in two categories.

Malaysian chinlone team celebrating their victory in the linking event yesterday. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS and S. S KANESAN / The Star

Malaysia could only manage a bronze in the chinlone same stroke event.

Malaysia failed to get into the final after posting 182 points in the preliminary stage at the Titiwangsa Indoor Stadium last night.

Laos also got the bronze in the four-nation competition with 161 points.

Favourites Myanmar and Thailand reached the final with 301 and 287 points respectively.

Myanmar went on to edge Thailand 317-303 for the gold.

SEA Games 2017