Thu, 16 Oct 1997

Honors shared in pool as RI sprinter wins

By Sylvia Gratia Miranda

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia and Thailand went neck-and-neck in the pool yesterday with three gold medals apiece, but the day rightfully belonged to hometown boy Richard Sam Bera.

In a fitting swan song to his distinguished Games career, Richard won the 50 meters freestyle in 23.40, edging Raymond Papa of the Philippines (23.78) and Singaporean Ying Wah Kwok (23.83).

Richard's time was still outside the record of 23.27 by Ang Peng Siong of Singapore at the 1989 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

In the 200 meters women's breaststroke, Rita Mariani of Indonesia sliced off 1.53 seconds from Joscelin Yeo's record of 2:34.87.

Singapore's Yu Fen May Ooi and compatriot Zhi Mei Daphe Teo were second and third.

Indonesia's third gold was bagged in the 4x100 meters women's medley relay in a new Games record of 4:19.23, breaking Singapore's 4:20.30 from 1993.

Sylvi Triana, Rita Mariani, Catherine Surya and Meitri W. Pangestika were the members of the winning squad.

Thailand took the silver (4:24.44) and Singapore (4:25.41) the bronze.

Swimming the second leg, Rita took over from Thailand's Vorathamrong Chonlathorn, and the Indonesians were never in danger of being caught.

Rita was surprised by the win. "I thank the audience for their great support."

Traditional swimming powerhouse Thailand emerged from its unfamiliar position in the shadow of the hosts to wrest three golds and two silvers.

Ratapong Sirisanont, who swam disappointingly Monday to finish last in the men's 200 meters individual medley, redeemed himself with gold in the men's 200 meters breaststroke (2:18.70), followed by Malaysian Chia Elvin (2:21.10) and Chee Wei Bryan of Singapore (2:22.36).

Ravee Intporn-Udom triumphed in the women's 200 meters freestyle (2:05.33).

Indonesia's Meitri and Catherine Surya joined her on the medal podium.

In the 1,500 meters men's freestyle, Torlarp Sethsothorn gave Thailand its third gold in 16:00.39. He was followed by his brother Torwai (16:02.21) and Malaysian Ung Die (16:08.87)

Indonesia has far surpassed its original target of four golds with nine first-place finishes, with six events still to be contested.

The chairman of the National Sports Council, Wismoyo Arismunandar, said gold medalists would receive bonuses, but he did not state what form these would take.

Swim team manager Anangga Rusdiono termed the unexpected golds "a dream come true".

Ginandjar Kartasasmita, patron of the Indonesian Swimming Association, said he was pleased as the squad was mainly comprised of young swimmers trained by local young trainers.

"I'm glad because we now have swimmers with potential," he said.

In diving, Thailand stamped its supremacy by completing a clean sweep of all four gold medals from men's and women's events. Pitchi Suchart won the men's 10 meter platform competition with 619 points after four preliminary dives.

Second and third were Indonesia's Husaini Noor (556.75) and Malaysian Yeoh Ken Nee (535.95).