Thai sprint star Jirapong comes up short again
Indonesian pumped up for gold at next year's KL SEA Games
The setting was perfect for Thai sprinter Jirapong Meenapra to seek redemption yesterday on the first day of the 78th Singapore Open Track and Field Championships.
If he was seeking to set the record straight, then he would have appreciated the setting, as he stood at the starting block for the men's 100m at the National Stadium.
Jirapong entered the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games as the defending champion in the men's 100m and 200m and boldly predicted he would retain both titles.
He failed to deliver in the two events, finishing third in the 200m and fifth in the 100m, at the National Stadium.
The 22-year-old would have wanted to retain his swagger, but redemption was not on the script in the end, as Jirapong clocked 10.43sec to finish behind Indonesia's gold medallist Iswandi Abdul Hamid Abdullah (10.40) yesterday.
Yaspi Boby (10.52), also of Indonesia, took home the bronze.
The Thai was virtually emotionless after the race, next to a fist-pumping Iswandi, and waited for the Indonesians to finish their celebrations before congratulating the winner.
When The New Paper approached Jirapong for a comment, he offered a slight smile, and said: "Let's wait till the 4x100m (relay) tomorrow."
In contrast, Iswandi was bullish, as he eyes the SEA Games gold next year in Kuala Lumpur.
He finished third (10.45) at last year's SEA Games, behind gold medallist Eric Cray of the Philippines (10.25) and teammate Yaspi (10.45), the silver medallist.
Iswandi claimed the silver at the 2013 Games in Myanmar, behind Jirapong, and is looking to complete his collection of medals next year.
"I am confident of winning gold next year and my teammates and I will be pushing hard," said a jubilant Iswandi, speaking through a translator after the prize presentation ceremony.
"I have a strategy against Eric and Jirapong, as well as my own teammates."
"It's been a while since Indonesia won the gold in this event and, hopefully, we can win next year and bring glory back to our country," added the 25-year-old, who is aiming to be the first sprinter since Franklin Burumi in 2011 to win the SEA Games 100m title.
Earlier, local sprinter Calvin Kang had missed out on a place in the final after clocking a slow 10.77 to finish third in his semi-final, behind Iswandi and Thailand's Kritsada Namsuwan.
Only the top two from his race made the final.
The 26-year-old, who finished his university exams on Wednesday, had clocked 10.58 in the heats yesterday.