Petanque titans Thailand prove unstoppable yet again
The stage was set for a David and Goliath battle.
Petanque powerhouses Thailand had already plundered six SEA Games gold medals.
Their opponents Malaysia, who had won just one gold so far, were hoping to cause an upset in the men's and women's triples events at the Padang yesterday.
But the Thai Goliaths proved unstoppable as the women's team of Nantawan Fueangsanit, Thongsri Thamakord and Phantipha Wongchuvej stormed to an easy 13-4 win.
Two lanes away, the Thai men were having a harder time, trailing Malaysia 6-3.
But the Thai trio of Thaloengkiat Phusa-at, Thanakorn Sangkaew and Suksan Piachan regained control to complete a double with a 13-10 win, after 1hr 45min.
In petanque, the person or team who is first to 13 points or racks up the most number of points after two hours is declared the winner.
Phantipha, the women's doubles champion, said she felt no pressure. After all, her team are four-time world champions. And they are hoping to make it five in November's world championships in Bangkok.
Her compatriot, Thaloengkiat, agreed.
"I kept cool when Malaysia led," he said, through a translator. "This game is about thinking and there's no hurry."
Vietnam and Laos shared the women's bronze, while Laos and Cambodia shared the men's bronze.
Malaysia, who finished with one gold, three silvers and one bronze, finished second overall to Thailand - an improvement on their 2013 haul of five bronzes.
Zani Lisa Mohamed, secretary of the Malaysia Petanque Federation, expects bigger improvements in 2017 when her country hosts the Games.
"Thailand are in control now; they have eight golds," she said.
"But in 2017, as hosts, we must achieve more than what we got in Singapore.
"With a bigger budget (from our government), we can go to more big tournaments in Europe.
"If we do all that, we're confident that we can fight with Thailand and get three or four gold medals."