Việt Nam has won gold in the marathon for the first time, thanks to the heroics of Hoàng Nguyên Thanh.
His title made up part of a golden hat trick on the last day of athletics.
The other winners for the hosts were Võ Xuân Vinh in the men’s 20km walk and Nguyễn Thị Thanh Phúc in the women’s 10km walk.
Their victories took Việt Nam’s athletics gold tally to 22, a record for the nation.
Marathoner Thanh was back in SEA Games after seven years, having taken a two-year break from marathoning.
But since his comeback in 2019, he set his sights on the domestic tournament and grabbed a place in the national team for the SEA Games.
The 2015 bronze medallist dreamed of a top place in his return but knew it would be a tough job.
However, on May 19, the Bình Phước Province-born athlete did it easier than expected.
He finished first with a time of 2hr 25.78min, neatly 30sec faster than the second-placed Agus Prayogo of Indonesia (2:25.38) who was the defending champion.
Tony Ah-Thit Payne of Thailand came third with 2:26.40.
“I am over the moon to be the first SEA Games marathon winner from Việt Nam,” Thanh said.
“It really moved me to think about the moment I sang the national anthem on the podium in front of so many local supporters and international friends. It is an honour and pride that nothing can compare with.”
Nguyên also recorded a personal best with the time of 2:25.78.
“Previously, I ran 2:26.56. at the national Tiền Phong Marathon in 2021. I believed that competing in such big competition like the SEA Games on home soil was a great push for me to run faster,” he said.
Thanh expects to set a national record in the future.
“The 2:21.51 record by Nguyễn Chí Đông in the SEA Games 22 will be my target. I will look at it to strive harder and harder. I hope to overcome it in near future.
“I am now dreaming of having a chance to compete in the Asian Games and I will practise hard for that target,” he said.
In the women’s marathon, Odekta Elvina Naibaho of Indonesia came first with a time of 2:25.08.
Naibaho, 30, ended Indonesia’s 11-year drought in the women’s marathon. Triyaningsih was the last to win gold for the nation at the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia.
Christine Hallasgo from the Philippines was second (2:56.07) and Vietnamese Hoàng Thị Ngọc Hoa took bronze in her SEA Games debut (2:57.35).
In the last two events, while Vĩnh claimed the first-ever gold for Việt Nam in the men’s walk, Phúc marked her return to the top podium after her failure last Games.
Vĩnh has been called the ‘king of second-place”, after his consecutive silvers in the last three Games, as well as more than second runners-up awards in the national championship.
On May 19 though, he tasted victory.
The Đà Nẵng City-based athlete (1:32.32) overcame the four-time champion Hendro Yap of Indonesia (1:35.21) and his teammate Nguyễn Thành Ngưng (1:37.43) to take his gold.
Phúc, on the other hand, was back to her favourite place after missing the last Games through injury.
Phúc finished with a time of 1:48.10 to take gold. Zin May Htet of Myanmar walked in 1:52.34 to finish second and Thai Kotchaphon Tangsrivong placed third with 1:56.07.
Việt Nam have won 22 golds, 14 silvers and seven bronzes and top the medal tally. Thailand are second with 12 golds while the Philippines and Malaysia are joint-third with five golds. — VNS