Thai undergrads spark 10m air rifle double
Pair of university students lead sweep in 10m air rifle team and individual events
A pair of university students handed out a shooting lesson to the rest of the competition at the Safra Yishun indoor shooting range yesterday when they led Thailand to a sweep of the men's 10m air rifle team and individual events.
Shooters Pongsaton Panyatong, 19, and Napis Tortungpanich, 20, led the way as they teamed up with 24-year-old Apichakli Ponglaokham to dominate the team event with a combined score of 1844.0, well ahead of silver medallists Malaysia (1826.9).
Third-placed Vietnam's total of 1818.1 narrowly pipped Singapore's trio of Royce Chan, Wesley Leong and Wong Ting Wei, to bronze by just 0.7.
Not even a 15-minute power outage could stop the Thais as they stamped their authority.
Later in the afternoon, SEA Games debutant Pongsaton put on a masterclass in the men's 10m air rifle individual event, thrilling the crowd with a rare perfect score of 10.9 in his second shot of the fifth series, before going on to win the gold with a score of 207.9.
Teammate Napis took silver with 206.8, while bronze went to Filipino Jayson Valdez, who was knocked out before the final series of two shots and finished with a score of 181.0.
"I am very happy to help win two gold medals for Thailand, but I can still do better," said Pongsaton, who competed at last year's Asian Games and has already set his sights on bigger prizes.
This SEA Games sees the step-ladder format used for the first time. Under this format, the fifth-placed shooter challenges the fourth-placed athlete for the right to face the third-placed shooter, and so on.
The crowd was initially confused by the format, then came to grips, cheering and clapping even while the athletes were firing away. However, Pongsaton had no problems with the distractions.
"We train accordingly and, having music and people cheering actually helps to make us less tense," said Pongsaton, who failed to score more than 10 points in only two of his 20 shots in the final.
Singapore's Royce, 17, finished fifth after being eliminated after 14 shots, finishing on a high after shooting a 10.8 for a total of 138.9.
"This is my first major Games and, while I think I performed above average, I can still improve on my ability to handle the stress of a final," said the Hwa Chong Junior College student.