SEA Games 2017, Aug 19-30: 6 days to go

SEA Games: Ho hopeful of Singapore getting three golds again

Ho Mun Cheong at the Singapore Athletics annual general meeting at Sports Hub’s Black Box auditorium on June 27, 2017.
Ho Mun Cheong at the Singapore Athletics annual general meeting at Sports Hub’s Black Box auditorium on June 27, 2017. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Singapore Athletics (SA) president Ho Mun Cheong is optimistic that the Republic can retain its three track and field gold medals from the 2015 SEA Games.

Soh Rui Yong (men's marathon), Veronica Shanti Pereira (women's 200m) and Zhang Guirong (women's shot put) all clinched titles en route to a nine-medal haul for Singapore's athletes.

Ho, however, cautioned against overconfidence, remaining wary of the "strong" opposition in Kuala Lumpur.

The Games start next Saturday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the inaugural Asian Tug of War championships organised by SA yesterday, he said: "In Shanti's case, she is prepared. Her form is already geared towards the SEA Games, but don't forget other countries are also training very hard.

"I watched the Vietnamese girl (Le Tu Chinh), and she is very fast. Based on times this year, she has been faster than Shanti, but this type of race is hard to predict because on the day, many factors will come into play."

At the Thailand Open in June, the 20-year-old Le clocked 23.52sec for top spot in the 200m, 0.22sec ahead of Shanti.

For the men's marathon, Singapore is the two-time defending champion, with Mok Ying Ren taking home gold in 2013 in Myanmar and Soh following suit two years later.

Mok, who juggles training with his work as a doctor, and defending champion Soh will face stiff competition from Indonesia's Agus Prayogo.

At the Seoul Marathon in March, Agus completed the 42.195km race in 2hr 21min 35sec, with Mok 5min behind despite clocking a new personal best (2:26:07).

Soh's PB stands at 2:24:55 clocked in Chicago last year.

However, Ho hopes the conditions in KL will favour the Singaporean duo's bid to "bring glory to the country".

He also tipped Zhang's teammate and fellow shot putter Du Xianhui, to join the defending champion on the podium this time.

"For Guirong, if she throws around 14m to 15m, the chance for gold is good," he said.

"As for Xianhui, just a medal and podium will be good, but gold will be difficult."

Other Singaporean athletes he tipped for podium finishes include national pole vault record-holder and SEA Games silver medallist Rachel Yang, high jump bronze medallist Michelle Sng, as well as 400m hurdles silver medallist Dipna Lim-Prasad.

And while Ho does not totally rule out the emergence of surprise packages, he does not see foresee any "based on current form".

Said Ho: "Our best chances (for gold) are with Shanti, Guirong and the marathoners, but we hope for the best.

"Sometimes, with some luck, we can get more medals."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 13, 2017, with the headline 'Ho hopeful of S'pore getting three golds again'. Print Edition | Subscribe