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Sunday, September 09, 2001

SEA Games - Glittering Opening

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) - The first SEA Games of the new millennium got off to a glittering and joyous start on Saturday night at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, setting the tempo for fostering greater solidarity and friendship through sports among all the 10 Asean nations.

The upbeat mood at the opening ceremony of the 21st SEA Games was symbolic of Southeast Asia's recovery from a financial crisis that hit the region in 1997 and ensuing political turmoil here and there, and signified an era of re-awakening in the region.

The state-of-the-art National Stadium was a spectrum of sparkling colours exuded by the fireworks and dancing lasers in an expression of Malaysia's multiracial society as the host welcomed the 6,000 athletes and officials, an occasion witnessed by thousands at the stadium and millions on television nationwide.

"It is with pleasure that I declare open the 21st SEA Games," proclaimed the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, giving the cue for a 10-gun salute to reverberate around the stadium.

For the first time, the opening ceremony was held simultaneously in Johor and Penang which will host some of the events of the Games. Negeri Sembilan is another state given the honour of hosting a few events.

The 21st SEA Games is the fifth to be hosted by Malaysia which staged the best-ever Commonwealth Games in 1998. Malaysia last hosted the SEA Games in 1989.

For the next nine days, athletes from the 10 countries will engage in friendly competition to win the 391 gold medals at stake. But beyond the competition, the Games reflect a region which sees improving economies and political stability.

It is being held at a time when Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia are helmed by new political leaders, when Malaysia and Singapore have resolved some long-standing differences and when the countries of Indochina are becoming more stable.


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SEA Games Tennis - Brunei to meet Myanmar

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) - Six of the 10 countries taking part in the men's tennis team events at the 21st SEA Games, including Brunei Games gold medallist Thailand and silver medallist Indonesia, moved into the second round when they were given a bye.

The draw for the competition was held at the Jalan Duta Tennis Complex, venue for the competition, after the manager's meeting today. There was no oppositon to the draw.

Besides, Thailand and Indonesia, Combodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Laos too received a bye and moved into the second round.

In the first round to be held tomorrow, Malaysia will play the Philippines while Brunei will meet Myanmar.

The winner of the Malaysia/Philippines match will face Vietnam while the winner of the Brunei/Myanmar match will meet Singapore in the second round.

Based on the draw, top-seeded Indonesia and second-seeded Thailand should breeze into the semifinals without much difficulty as they face the less-fancied Cambodia and Laos respectively in the second round.

In the semifinals, Indonesia are expected to meet either fourth-seeded Vietnam or the winner of the Malaysia/Philippines match while Thailand are slated to face either third-seeded Singapore or the winner of the Brunei/ Myanmar game.

If Indonesia and Thailand can beat their respective opponents, the finals will be a repeat of the Brunei Games.

Thailand lived up to its top seed billing then and had beaten Indonesia 3-0 to snatch the gold.


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Saturday, September 08, 2001

SEA Games - Battle for gold begins

KUALA LUMPUR (dpa) - Southeast Asia's biennial version of the Olympics kicks off Saturday in the Malaysian capital with more than 3,500 athletes vying for medals in the regional games known more for its goodwill than sporting prowess.

For more than 10 days, the athletes will contest in 32 sports, ranging from the usual athletics, aquatics and football to traditional Asian games such as 'sepak takraw', or martial arts such as 'silat' and 'wushu'.

A total of 391 gold medals are up for grabs at the 21st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), which Malaysian organisers are billing as the region's first games of the new millennium.

The SEA Games will be declared open on Saturday night by Malaysia's king, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, at the 100,000-seat National Stadium in Bukit Jalil near Kuala Lumpur. Thailand, which won the most gold medals at the 1999 SEA Games in Brunei, is expected to tussle with its arch rival, Indonesia, for the top spot again.

Host Malaysia, whose best finish at the Games is second place, is hoping to win at least 80 gold medals - which would be its biggest-ever haul.

"What is important now is to win and everything else is irrelevant," Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad told local athletes, pointing out they had managed to win 10 gold medals in the 1998 Commonwealth Games, which are of a higher sporting standard than the SEA Games.

The SEA Games, previously known as the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (SEAP Games), were first held in 1959 in Bangkok and involved Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Laos.

In 1977, Indonesia and the Philippines joined for the first time and the games were since known as the SEA Games. Brunei and Cambodia joined later.

Thailand is sending the biggest contingent of 650 athletes and officials to the Kuala Lumpur games, followed by Malaysia with 558 and Indonesia's 544. Cambodia meanwhile has the smallest presence with 85 athletes.

The 32 sporting events are: athletics, archery, badminton, basketball, snooker, boxing, bowling, cycling, equestrian, fencing, football, golf, gymnastics, hockey, judo, karate, lawn bowls, netball, petanque, rowing, sepak takraw, shooting, silat, squash, swimming, table tennis, taekwando, tennis, volley ball, weightlifting, wushu and sailing.

Some of the events will be held outside Kuala Lumpur, while the venue for football has been shifted to a smaller stadium than the Shah Alam stadium after grass mites unexpectedly attacked the pitch last month.

Although short on world-shattering or even Asian-level records, the SEA Games are, nevertheless, hotly contested by regional athletes, especially in events such as athletics, football, swimming and badminton.

Most of the contingents have already arrived for the Games, and officials have begun their traditional 'psychological' war to rattle competitors.

The Thais have voiced fears of biased Malaysian referees, the Malaysians have accused foreign television crews of spying on the secret routines of its synchronised swimmers, while the Indonesians have vowed to sweep 'as many gold medals as possible' to erase the humiliating memory of the 1999 Brunei Games when it finished third overall after Thailand and Malaysia.

In one of the more bizarre accusations, the Malaysians allege the Thais have resorted to black magic to ensure it retains the gold in the sepak takraw event, which is a kind of volleyball played with the legs and head that is hugely popular in the two countries.

Source: Borneo Bulletin

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SEA Games - Brunei contingent offered Ďdream maiden'

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) - The Mutiara Hotel here is providing the "Dara Idaman" (dream maiden) to welcome the Brunei contingent who are staying in the hotel during the SEA Games on Sept 8-17.

However the "Dara Idaman" is not going to set any temperature rising as it is only a cocktail specially prepared by the hotel for the Brunei athletes and officials.

Mutiara Hotel marketing director Nor Aini Hassan said: "We do not have any special programmes to welcome the Brunei contingent, like preparing special Brunei delicacies and decorating the foyer.

"So in order to liven up the atmosphere, we have decided to make a special cocktail, called the Dara Idaman, to welcome the Brunei SEA Games contingent," she told Bernama.

She said the cocktail was available at all of the hotel's food and beverages outlets.

Over at the Dynasty Hotel in Jalan Ipoh where the Indonesian contingent are staying, the reception is different.

"We try to create a home like atmosphere for them (Indonesians).

"The hotel received assistance from the Indonesian Embassy which provide us with some equipment and handicraft," said its marketing and communications manager Chan Lai San.

Chan said the hotel's ballroom is also specially decorated as the Indonesians would be having their meals there.


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Sepak Takraw - Expect a surprise from Brunei

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) - Brunei have expressed their confidence in bagging one medal in the SEA Games sepak takraw competition on Sept 9-15 at the Titiwangsa Stadium here.

"We have seen that several sepak takraw minnows like Myanmar and Laos rising to the occasion by displaying a brilliant performance.

"This has given us the impetus to win a medal...regardless of the colour," Brunei sepak takraw team manager Mokti Abd Ghani told Bernama here Friday.

He said Brunei were ready to face sepak takraw powerhouses like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

"We have been preparing for the SEA Games here since the conclusion of the 1999 edition in Bandar Seri Begawan," he said.

The Brunei sepak takraw team are trained by Ismail Atan, a Malaysian.


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Swimming - Medals, not records on Keng Liatís mind

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysiaís swimming sensation Lim Keng Liat wants to make waves in the SEA Games but is not too concerned about breaking records.

He said his priority was to win all the five events he has entered for.

The US-based Keng Liat, who arrived here last Saturday, will be competing in the menís 100m and 200m backstroke, 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x200m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley.

Keng Liat, the 200m backstroke gold medallist at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, said he was confident of doing well at this Games.

"My priority is to win the golds. Itís more important than trying to set good times. But if I win and set new records, it would be nice," said Keng Liat yesterday.

Keng Liat said with homeground advantage, the Malaysian swimmers should have a splashing time.

"I think we can achieve the target. But I donít want to be over confident," said the Sabahan.

In the 1999 Brunei SEA Games, Keng Liat won three gold medals.

He said he was likely to face stiff competition from the Thai, Indonesian and Singaporean swimmers.

"The Thais are good in long distance events, Indonesians in the freestyle and Singaporeans in medley races. I will give my best," he said.

Meanwhile, his contemporary, Wisnu Wardhana has fallen by the wayside, Indonesiaís veteran swimmer, Richard Sam Bera remains fit and ready and he will be seeking to score a "hattrick" in the 50m and 100m freestyle in this yearís SEA Games swimming competition at the National Aquatics Centre, here.

The 30-year old sprinter, who grabbed gold medals in both events in the Jakarta and Brunei Games, is at the threshold of creating history if he could win his pet events the third time running before he decides to retire.

"My personal best is about the same in Brunei and Iím quite confident of winning the events.

"Itís not going to be easy this time because there are also good sprinters in the region," he said when met at the pool, here yesterday.

Richard said his personal best for 50m is around 00:23.35s and hoped to post a better time this year. The SEA Games record is 00:23.27s set by Singaporeís Ang Peng Siong.

In Brunei SEA games two years ago, Richard smashed the games record with a time of 00:51.03s, obliterating the previous time of 00:51.31s set by compatriot Wisnu Wardhana.

For this event, Richard will face stiff competition from Malaysiaís Allen Ong, who took the silver medal in Brunei.

"I think we have equal chance of winning the 100m this time around," Allen said. But, as far as I know, Richard is still strong and it depends who performs well on the race day.

In the 1997 Jakarta Games, Allen Ong took the bronze with a time of 00:52.76s and went one better in Brunei to take the silver medal.

"I hope I can strike gold this year," he quipped.

Other likely challengers will come from Singaporeís Leslie Kwok and Ernest Teo.


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Weightlifting - Age no barrier for Guntali

JOHOR BAHARU: Weightlifter Matin Guntali has participated in four SEA Games but has yet to strike gold.

It is certainly not for want of trying for he is acknowledged as one of the most determined and hardworking weightlifters in the Malaysian camp.

The 35-year-old Martin said age is no barrier to his golden ambition and he would give his best shot at the 21st SEA Games here.

"The competition will be very stiff, especially from the Indonesian and Thai weightlifters," said the father of three.

"Although I have not won gold before, I will take to the stage with confidence," he told Bernama yesterday.

His only SEA Games medal was the bronze in the 54kg category which he won in 1997 in Jakarta.

Martin said his personal best in the clean and jerk was 140kg, which he did at the Sarawak Open in 1999.

"I have to admit that my performance has not been consistent. It depends on my physical condition," he said.

However, he is satisfied with his present fitness level and hopes to contribute a medal to the country.

Team manager Zainuddin Rasidi said Matinís advantage was his fighting spirit and vast experience.

The Malaysian weightlifting team are happy that the equipment for the SEA Games venue here is finally arriving.

Team manager Zainuddin Rasidi said he was informed that the equipment from Japan would arrive at Dewan Serbaguna Taman Johor Jaya at 11 tonight after being cleared by the Customs in Singapore.

"Hopefully, by tomorrow morning the participants can use the venue for training," he said.

The equipment was to have arrived on Monday and the delay has deprived the weightlifters of the opportunity of training at the venue.

The weightlifting event, offering 13 gold medals, will be held for four days from next Tuesday.

Myanmar are banking on their women weightlifters to collect at least three gold medals in the SEA Games.

Lt Col Thein Aung, deputy chef-de-mission of the Myanmar contingent, said the countryís women weightlifters would compete in four categories - 48kg, 53kg 62kg and 69kg.

"We are more confident of the women weightlifters and target medals in all categories," he told reporters after part of the contingent reported at Puteri Pan Pacific Hotel here.

The SEA Games weightlifting events will be held at Dewan Serbaguna Taman Johor Jaya here.

Thein Aung said Myanmar were not expecting much from their men weightlifters as they were mostly new faces and did not have much experience.

But their womenís team are experienced and have been training for a year. They comprise Swe Swe Win (in the 43kg category) Kyi Kyi Than and Kay Thi Win (48kg), Khin Moe Nwe (62kg) and Mya Sanda Oo (69kg).

Thein Aung said the main challenge for Myanmar was expected to come from Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The Myanmar women weightlifters collected three gold and one silver medals at the 1997 SEA Games in Jakarta. Weightlifting for women was not included in the 1999 Brunei Games.


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Friday, September 07, 2001

Badminton - Brunei Shell sail into final

Brunei Shell sailed into the final when they outclassed HSBC in the semifinals winning 12-5 on Wednesday night at the Royal Brunei Police Headquarters, Gadong. Brunei Shell will meet QAF Brunei in the final tomorrow night.

In total contrast to the previous night's semifinal between QAF Brunei and Royal Brunei Airlines, this match was a one-sided affair as Brunei Shell stormed to the needed nine wins to see them advance.

The only category in which Brunei Shell encountered some resistance was in the ladies doubles where HSBC managed to win two of the four ties on offer.

After reaching the magic number of nine wins, Brunei Shell graciously conceded three of the four mixed doubles to their opponents as the match was already won.

FULL RESULTS (Shell names first)

Hasri bt Sim See Hau 15-1,15-2
Abd Gapar bt Asmali 15-4,15-0

Nurliana Abdullah bt Foo Mann Peng 11-2,11-0
Lai Kim Fah bt Norainah Join 11-6,11-3

Hasri / Roslan bt Faisal Abdullah / Hj Faisal Othman 15-0,15-6
Shim / Hanapiah bt Minorhadi / Albert Roche 15-5,15-2
Pg Azhar / Ahmad Tusin bt Daniel Liew / Khairul 15-5,15-3
Pg Sulaiman / Rosli bt Andy Yong / Koo Yu Chuan 15-10,15-5
Noel / Fauzi bt Alan Yap / Ong Chee Siang 15-1,15-1

Nurliana / Catherine bt Kimberly / Nurhijjahwati 15-2,15-3
Mok Lee / Norhashimah lost to Salmiah Majid / Foo Mann Peng 15-4,15-10
Evelyn / Jenny bt Norainah / Marzain 15-5,15-13
Sui Moi / Chiew Yin lost to Ho Beng Lai / Mary Lee 16-17,15-1,17-16

Abd Gapar / Nurliana lost to Daniel / Siti Salmiah w/o.
Hasri / Evelyn lost to Sim See Hau / Wee Shaw Liang w/o.
Eng Bu / Siti Aisah 2-15,15-7,15-6
Shim / Kim Fah lost to Khairul / Datin Rosni w/o.

Source: Borneo Bulletin

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Mountain Bike - Boost for Brunei bikers

By K. Jafni H. Ali

The 21st SEA Games mountain bike team got a major boost yesterday when the Brunei Darussalam Bicycle Federation (PBBD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Triple Star Enterprise (TSE).

TSE will sponsor two mountain bikes of the GT Zaskar Race type and the Wheeler type to two riders, three sets of T-shirts to each competitor, spare parts, one standby mechanic at game site and one airfare ticket for the mechanic.

"The federation is thankful for the support from TSE and the private sector as a whole in promoting the sport. In the wake of the SEA Games, we really need sponsors especially a mechanic that could handle any mechanical repair that may be deemed required during the competition", said Hj Rosli Hj Mohiddin, the president of PBBD.

Brunei will be represented by six competitors in two mountain bike events (cross-country and downhill) that will be held at Sungai Buloh, Kuala Lumpur from September 13-15.

Source: Borneo Bulletin

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Thursday, September 06, 2001

Badminton - QAF Brunei in the final

QAF Brunei dodged a bullet somewhat when they edged out Royal Brunei Airlines 9-8 in the first semifinal of the QAF Corporate Badminton League 2001 on Tuesday night at the Royal Brunei Police Headquarters, Gadong.

Having beaten RBA 12-5 in the league meeting some weeks back, QAF Brunei were strong favourites to go through but they were given a major run for their money by a resilient RBA team who seemed to have gotten their pairings just right.

It was truly an epic battle between the second and third place sides in the league as the two teams traded blows like heavyweight boxers, the momentum swinging back and forth with the national carrier threatening to pull off a major surprise.

In the end, the game boiled down to the mixed doubles where the QAF Brunei Executive Deputy Chairman and CEO, Prince Abdul Qawi partnered Siti Norasmah Safar to clinch the tie for a relieved QAF Brunei side.

Prince Qawi played in three matches for QAF Brunei where he lost to Hj Effendy in an absolute nailbiter in the men's singles, the match going to Hj Effendy 17-14 in a tense rubber set.

However, the QAF CEO rebounded well to win his men's doubles match and then went on to give his team the win with the all-important mixed doubles win.

The other turning point came when the mixed doubles pairing of Boroh Petrus and Luly Jabing down 13-7 in the third and rubber set of their match against Hamdani and Zulina fought back to win the tie 15-13.

The RBA men did their best by claiming three of the five men's doubles and unfortunately had to give a walkover in one of the ties as one of their players failed to turn up.

QAF Brunei now advance to Saturday night's final where they will face the winner of last night's other semifinal match between Brunei Shell and HSBC.

Source: Borneo Bulletin

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