Atlit Asia

Story by Colin Tung/Red Sports. Photos by Marvin Lowe/Red Sports.
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Thailand’s anchor runner Jirapong Meenapra had a nervous end to the race with Saudi Arabia’s anchor Abdullah Ahmed B Abkar. Jirapong had his neck across the line ahead of the Saudi Arabian to take gold in a time of 1:27.89 minutes, however, Saudi Arabia was eventually disqualified for running out of their lane. (Photo 1 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
Bishan Stadium, Friday, July 3, 2009 – A total of 10 finals were on the menu on the closing day of the Asian Youth Games (AYG) Athletics competition. While Singaporeans took centre stage in three finals, it was neighbours Thailand who ended the day with a resounding bang.

The javelin girls’ final was the first event on the order at 4.00pm and 25 minutes was what it took for the two entrants – Lee Seonhye of the Republic of Korea and Cimato Stephanie of the Philippines – in the event to make six attempts each.
At the end of the six attempts, it was Lee Seonhye who came up tops for the gold medal with a throw of 41.10m. Cimato Stephanie settled for the silver with a distance of 36.21m.
Over on the other side of the field, the high jump boys’ event was ongoing. Only four jumpers survived to attempt the height of 2.02m and only one from that group succeeded at the height. Ren Wei of China cleared 2.02m on his first attempt and won the gold medal. He failed on all three of his attempts at 2.05m.
After a count-back, Kim Yeonjae of the Republic of Korea and Oleshko Sergey of Kazakhstan got the silver and bronze medal respectively. Missing out unfortunately on a medal was Hsiang Chun-Hsien of Chinese Taipei.
The last field event of the competition was the shot put boys’ final which had six competitors. Li Jun of China won in convincing fashion with a throw of 19.45m, almost 3m further than his closest rival.
Kargar Nejad Mehdi of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Bumroong Panyawut of Thailand got the silver and bronze medals respectively with throws of 16.76m and 15.95m.
Kimura Akane was prevented from making it a double for Japan in the blue-riband 100m event after compatriot Nashimoto Masaki had earlier won the boys’ race. Republic of Korea’s Lee Sunae clocked 12.16s for the win and Akane clocked 12.36s to finish runner-up. Rounding off the top-three, 0.08s back in 12.44s, was He Jiawen of China.
The 800m boys’ final went ahead without Singapore’s Zachary Devaraj who had to watch the race from the stands. It was an exciting race nonetheless as Kumar Ravi of India and Beyranvand Amir of the Islamic Republic of Iran took the race down the home-straight, neck-to-neck.
At the end, both of them lunged for the finish and it turned out to be Kumar Ravi who timed his to perfection as he edged Beyranvand 1min 55.91sec to 1:55.93. Herath E of Sri Lanka took the bronze, in a time of 1:56.33, ahead of Republic of Korea’s Park Yongsu. The Korean had led the pack through 400m and 600m in times of 57.29s and 1:27.43 respectively but faded badly in the last 200m.
The 4x200m relays were the curtain closer for the AYG Athletics programme and it was Thailand that dominated.
South-East Asian powerhouse and neighbours Thailand fended off the challenge of Japan to win the girls’ title in a time of 1:41.29, a comfortable three seconds quicker than Japan’s 1:44.36. Sri Lanka got the bronze medal with a time of 1:45.14.
In the boys’ race, Thailand also won in a strong message that their relay teams should not be trifled with. Senior Thai relay teams have made it to the Olympics before, a privilege reserved only for the top-16 teams in the world.
Their boys certainly look to be on the same path of success, winning with an even more convincing margin of almost five seconds over Sri Lanka, but that was after Saudi Arabia had been disqualified.
The Saudi Arabian anchor runner, Abkar Abdullah Ahmed B, had run down Thailand’s Meenapra Jirapong in the dying metres and was pushing the latter to his limits. Jirapong held out to confirm the win but it wouldn’t have mattered if Abkar Abdullah had beaten him as Saudi Arabia later found out they were disqualified.
Thailand posted a time of 1:27.89 over eventual runners-up Sri Lanka’s 1:32.57 as the Thai press got busy. Bahrain got the bronze in a time of 1:33.80.
The Tanjong Katong Secondary School military band brought the curtains down on four exciting days of competition at Bishan Stadium with a fitting performance as athletes and officials retreated to the Games Village at Swissotel to rejuvenate so that could they could catch another three days’ worth of competition in other sports.
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Despite the neck-and-neck finish, Thailand’s anchor runner Jirapong Meenapra was confident he had clinched the gold for his country raising his hands in triumph immediately after crossing the finishing line. (Photo 2 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
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Thailand’s girls 4x200m relay team made it a double for their country when anchor runner Benjamas Yuadthong finished the race strongly for her team in a time of 1:41.29 minutes, which was a massive 3 seconds ahead of Japan’s Akane Kimura who finished runners up. (Photo 3 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
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Thailand’s first 2 runners were trailing behind Japan, but a superior baton changeover between Thailand’s second (Supawan Thipat) and third runner (Gedsuda Kumlieng) allowed the Thais to overtake the Japanese. (Photo 4 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
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Ren Wei of China cleared 2.02m on his first attempt and won the gold medal… (Photo 5 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
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…but he failed on all three of his attempts at 2.05m. (Photo 6 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
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Republic of Korea’s Lee Sunae clocked 12.16s to take the gold medal in a beautifully-run 100m race. (Photo 7 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)

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