Lao athletes have golden glint for 25th SEA Games

Posted by samakomlao Sunday, July 12, 2009

The main target for Lao athletes as the home team at this year's biennial SEA Games is to improve on their personal best.

National athletes and their coaches are saying these games are not just for experience, enjoyment, or friendship as in the past. This time they are serious and are putting all their efforts into victory.

Hopes of success for the nation's athletes are high after their last SEA Games campaign in Thailand in 2007 where 5 gold, 7 silver and 32 bronze medals were won.

This was a big improvement for Lao teams over previous SEA Games, and will serve to encourage them to improve as they aim for a record medal haul when they appear in front of local supporters on home soil in December.

Despite competing as the home team, it will not be easy for Laos to sit atop the medal tally. The nation has set a goal of at least 25 gold medals at the games.

The level of sports development in Laos is quite low compared to most other Asean countries. Nearly all Lao athletes compete as amateurs, while those in other countries in the region are often professionals.

This year will be the first time Laos has competed in the weightlifting event at the SEA Games.

The home nation is considered a good chance in some of the weightlifting divisions, despite the fact that many competitors from other countries have Asian and Olympic Games experience.

Petanque is also a big hope for Laos to win gold medals. The Lao team hopes to claim at least four gold medals from the 11 events, according the Lao Petanque Federation.

Previous gold medals won by Lao petanque teams at the SEA Games include one in each of the 2001 ( Malaysia ) and 2003 ( Vietnam ) games, and two in the 2005 ( Philippines ) and 2007 events.

The men's national football team is also looking to impress and make their first ever semi-finals, or perhaps even the gold-medal match.

The team will commence training under new a coach from Austria , Alfred Riedl, due to arrive in the country next week.

Across numerous sports Lao athletes have high hopes of success at the games and are training hard in their quest for glory.

When talking about the SEA Games Lao people invariably remember the nation's first boxing star, Mr Vongkot Chinda.

He won the country's first ever SEA Games medal, a silver at the 1989 games in Malaysia .

He followed this up with another at the 1993 games in Singapore . Mr Vongkot also won a bronze medal at the Asian Games in Beijing , China in 1990.

By Sisay Vilaysack
Vientianetimes

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