Aug 08, 2016

    A golden start for South-east Asia

    SOUTH-EAST Asia woke up to the brightest of Sundays after Vietnamese shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh and Thai weightlifter Sopita Tanasan won gold medals on the opening day of the Rio Games.

    The region failed to deliver a single gold medal at the 2012 London Games - a first since the 1988 Seoul Games.

    But armed with renewed hope and fresh ammunition in Brazil, Vinh led the way to the top of the podium.

    The 41-year-old military officer ended Vietnam's six-decade wait for a first Olympic gold medal with a total point haul of 202.5 in the men's 10m air pistol.

    Hours later, 21-year-old Sopita grabbed the first gold medal of the weightlifting competition. She dominated the women's 48kg, lifting 92kg in the snatch and 108kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 200kg to finish first.

    If there is a collective weight off the shoulders of South-east Asia's leading athletes, they will not be short of opportunities to express themselves.

    Former badminton world champion Ratchanok Intanon and newly-crowned British Open golf champion Ariya Ju-tanugarn can add to Thailand's medal tally.

    Malaysia's badminton star Lee Chong Wei is the men's singles top seed while compatriot and diver Pandelela Rinong is looking for an upgrade on her 10m platform bronze from the 2012 Olympics.

    Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling is also a medal contender in the men's 100m butterfly.