Myanmar strike gold in takraw men's doubles
Filipinos come up just short in men's sepak takraw doubles
They had to settle for second best the last time they featured in the men's doubles event at the SEA Games in 2011 in Indonesia.
But Myanmar finally tasted sepak takraw gold when they edged out a spirited Philippines side 2-1 (20-22, 21-13, 21-16) at the Singapore Expo yesterday.
Hosts Singapore and Laos shared the joint bronze medal.
With regional powerhouses Thailand absent from the group, it was Myanmar's gold medal to lose, having more experience after winning the doubles team and doubles regu at the last Games in their home city of Naypyidaw in 2013.
Speaking through a translator, Myanmar's captain Zaw Latt said after last night's win: "I feel very happy because we finally won a gold medal in the men's doubles.
"The Philippines were a very good team and they improved a lot. I wasn't expecting them to be this good because in the past years we could beat them in straight sets but, today, it was a difficult match because their quality has improved by so much."
The Philippines duo, who were the bronze medallists in the event in 2011, gave the Myanmar pair a run for their money when they drew first blood with a hard-fought 22-20 win in the first set, but Myanmar rallied back to take the next set 21-13.
In a tense final set, Myanmar's experience showed as they edged out their opponents 21-16 to secure their first gold medal in the men's doubles, and their third gold medal in sepak takraw at this year's Games.
While Myanmar may have had luck on their side given Thailand's absence, team manager Moe Aung Kyaw thought otherwise.
He said: "In every SEA Games, Thailand and Myanmar are always against each other, and I know Thailand are much better but, today, we did our best.
"Some people may think we are lucky that Thailand did not join the doubles event but I don't think so.
"A lot of the countries have improved, just look at the Philippines.
"Myanmar have also improved so no one can say they will definitely win the gold medal."
For the Philippines, their search for a gold medal in sepak takraw continues, but team captain Jason Huerte is content with their progress so far.
He said: "I think we deserve this silver medal, because we fought hard. We wanted the gold, but what can you do?
"We're okay with the silver because that's the way it is. Next time, we'll come back stronger."
In the women's doubles final, Thailand's pair wrapped up a dominant campaign by winning their fifth gold medal in sepak takraw, after beating Myanmar 2-0.
Vietnam and Laos were joint bronze medal winners.
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