Malaysia win men’s triples gold to end Thai dominance

Syed Akmal Fikri was inspired by his father. (Bernama pic)

NEW CLARK CITY: The national petanque squad made a good start to their SEA Games campaign by snatching the men’s triples gold today.

Malaysia’s success in the opening event ended the domination of Thailand, who won the last two editions in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Hafizuddin Mat Daud, Syed Akmal Fikri Syed Ali and Saiful Bahri Musmin battled for almost three hours before beating Thailand’s Wanchaloem Srimueang, Piyabut Chamchoi and Panu Roeksanit 13-11 at the CDC Lot in front of the Royce Hotel and Casino.

Malaysia were trailing 9-4 before drawing level 11-11. Hafizuddin then emerged the hero by scoring two points.

The win made up for the disappointment of the women’s trio, who earlier lost 14-3 to Cambodia in the final.

Coach Syed Ali Syed Akil was thrilled by the start, given their last medal in the event was a bronze at Singapore 2015.

“I was surprised by their excellent performance but believed they could bounce back despite trailing,” he said.

“I also told my son (Syed Akmal) not to give up.”

Syed Akmal Fikri was just as excited, having failed in his second attempt in 2015.

“The motivation given by my father spurred me to success,” said Syed Akmal, who is making his fourth consecutive appearance at the regional Games.

Malaysia will also meet Thailand in the men’s and women’s doubles semifinals after clearing the qualifying rounds today.