SEA Games: Indonesian 20km race walker clinches 1st athletics gold of the Games

SINGAPORE - Cheers erupted as Indonesia's Hendro Hendro retained his gold in the 20km men's race walk at East Coast Park on Saturday afternoon.

The 2013 Games champion clocked 1hr 34min 22sec to win the first athletics gold of this Games. Vietnam's Vo Xuan Vinh, also the silver-medallist in 2013 edition, came in second again with 1:38:37. Malaysia's Muhammad Khairil Harith Harun finished third with a time of 1:40:56.

Said Hendro: "I'm so happy because this is the first gold for the Indonesia athletics team. But my time was not good, I did not qualify for the World Championships. Today was very hot and it was hard for me."

The 25-year-old's timing fell short his 2013 winning time of 1:29:41. Nonetheless, he be celebrating his win alongside friends back home, with a 42km run from the city of Yogayakarta to Winosari.

Singapore's Edmund Sim Soon Chye finished last with a time of 1:53:15. He said: "I'm very happy that I completed (the race). The judges were very strict, it was unlike other race I've been to.

"(But) I'm sad that I couldn't get onto the podium, because the bronze medallist's timing was close to my personal best and season best."

Singapore's Joel Koh was disqualified at the 42-minute mark due to violation of knee-bend rules.

In the women's 20km race walk, Vietnam's Nguen Thi Thanh Phuc clinched the gold with a time of 1:34:22. Myanmar's Soe Than Than won silver while Vietnam's Phan Ti Bich Ha took the bronze.

Thanh Phuc, a silver and gold medallist at the 2013 and 2011 SEA Games respectively, improved on her 2013 Games timing of 1:37:08 by more than two minutes.

Singapore's Tin Shu Min finished last with a time of 2:02:44.

liminc@sph.com.sg

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