Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ground for optimism

Myanmar is eying a haul of three gold medals in sepak takraw at the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

National sepak takraw players in action during a regional tournament. Photo - Myanmar Sepak Takraw FederationNational sepak takraw players in action during a regional tournament. Photo - Myanmar Sepak Takraw Federation

The last Games in Singapore delivered just one gold and three silver medals, but the optimism comes from the fact that the players making up the national squads – men’s and women’s – have put in more hours of training this time, and the selectors have had the freedom to choose players from the best pool of talent available.

As such, players in the 15-strong men’s squad and the women’s, comprising of nine players, were selected based on merit of their performance on the domestic circuit – in state and regional-level tournaments.

“Our preparations actually began in January last year. Since then we have held tournaments and used them as a barometer to gauge performance and select players. Our target is three gold medals and we believe it is possible because we will be fielding our best players,” Myanmar Sepak Takraw Federation’s general secretary U Htut Khine Nwe told The Myanmar Times.

The sepak takraw competition in Kuala Lumpur will feature five men’s and three women’s events. Myanmar’s men’s squad will be competing in three of them and the women’s in two.

“We are expecting the men to deliver two golds and the women a third,” he added. Myanmar can expect tough competition from Thailand and hosts Malaysia, both nations being sepak takraw heavyweights.

“Thailand and Malaysia will be tough to crack. But Myanmar is best at regu events and this is where we expect gold. We know it’s not going to be easy but we’ll try our best,” said the general secretary.

As part of the preparations, the national team competed in a sepak takraw in Malaysia last May and came away with two golds, one silver and a bronze.

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