THEY rushed towards each other, hugging and shouting in sheer ecstasy. It was a joyous moment for coach Syed Ali Syed Akil and his son Syed Akmal Fikri.
The younger Syed, along with Mohd Hafizuddin Mat Daud and Saiful Bahri Musmin, had pulled off a great comeback from 4-9 down to beat Thailand to win the men’s triples petanque gold medal in Angeles Field.
The trio, drenched in sweat, were trailing far behind but stayed cool under the hot afternoon sun to keep the pressure on the Thai trio of Sri Mueang Wachaloem, Chamchoi Piyabut and Roeksani Panukorn.
It was Syed Akmal who was in his element as his accurate throws handed Malaysia a lifeline and prevented the Thais from sealing victory. The first to get 13 points is declared the winner and it was 22-year-old Syed Akmal who made another accurate throw to knock Thailand’s ball away to hand Malaysia the gold after three hours of battling.
Malaysia earlier beat Vietnam 13-6 to advance to the men’s triples final.
It is the first time Malaysia won the men’s triples event. Thailand won the event in the last two editions in Singapore (2015) and Malaysia (2017).
“I have to thank my dad for keeping our spirits up even though we were trailing far behind.
“He kept asking me to drink water to keep myself calm and said nothing is impossible. I was able to stay relaxed and I think I wanted the gold badly for my family. I have been away from them because of centralised training in Thailand, ” said Syed Akmal.
It was also a day of great joy for Hafizuddin as it was the third SEA Games triumph. Hafizuddin was the men’s singles gold medallist for Malaysia in Singapore and KL.
“The organisers did not include the men’s singles this time but there was no way I was going back without one. I don’t know how we pulled it off. It’s just super fighting spirit by the team, ” said Hafizuddin.
Syed Ali was a happy man at the end of the day as his players drenched him with water.
“I kept reminding them not to panic as it is not impossible to come back as long as you focus on your game.
“It’s the first time we won a gold in men’s triples. We waited nearly 20 years for this moment, ” said Syed.
Senin Nurashimah, Nur Farah Hana and Edie Sufiqriyani settled for silver after they were defeated 4-13 by Cambodia in the women’s triples final. Malaysia beat Myanmar 13-8 in the semis earlier. Article type: free User access status: 3