Hosts Vietnam will bring the curtains down on the 5th Asian Beach Games in Danang with a bang on Monday after recording their best-ever medal haul with 139 medals including 52 gold to reign supreme, relegating reigning overall champions Thailand to the se
After nine days of fighting tooth and nail in Danang,Thailand athletes delegation of 427 athletes and officials captured a total of 36 gold, 24 silver and 30 bronze medals, a far cry from their total haul of 56-37-33 achieved at home when Phuket hosted the previous edition two years ago. In Danang, the Sports Authority of Thailand has set its initial target that their athletes will return with 39 gold medals.
Hosts Vietnam top the medal table with 52 gold, 44 silver and 43 bronze medals, while Thailand finished second place, with China in third place overall with 12 gold, 18 silver and 19 bronze medals.
Thailand has finished top three in the past four editions of the Asian Beach Games. At the inaugural competition in Bali in 2008, hosts Indonesia topped the medal tally with 23 gold, while Thailand finished second with 10 gold. Two years later in Muscat, Oman, Thailand surged to the top of the medal charge with 15 gold. In 2012 in Haiyang, hosts China stamped their authority with 14 gold with Thailand in second place with just one gold behind. In 2014, Thailand hosted the fourth edition in Phuket, where they made much of the impact after capturing 56 gold, the biggest amount ever in the Asian Beach Games.
A total of 172 gold medals were up for grabs in the biennial competition in Danang, which started on September 24 and will be concluded on Monday, October 3. No medal was on offer on the final day. Only the closing ceremony will be held.
Among the 36 gold medals they have won in Danang, Thailand fared well in Muay, which they took a majority of 8 out of 16 gold on offer. They also shone through their exceptional skill in beach petanque, Pencak Silat and beach sepaktrakraw, which they claimed 4 gold apiece. In beach woodball, where 11 gold were up for grabs, Thailand took 6 gold.
However, in martial arts events which have been determined by judges panel such as jujitsu and kurash, Thailand failed to make their mark. They won only three gold in jujitsu, where a number of 18 gold were at stake. The Thais also claimed only two bronze medals in kurash, with 10 gold on offer. Nonetheless, Thailand did not send their players in the Vovinam, a Vietnamese martial art practiced with and without weapons.
On the very first event contested in the Asian Beach Games in Danang, former SEA Games gold medallist Benjaporn Sriphanomthorn handed Thailand the first Games gold medal in marathon swimming when she clocked the fastest time of 1:05.57.6 hour in the women’s gruelling 5km swim.
Thailand’s last gold came from Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee in the women’s beach volleyball on Sunday after they powered past Chinese Tang Ningya/Wang Xinxin 21-18 21-15 in 35 minutes. The Thai duo stunned another strong Chinese pairing, Wang Fan/Xia Xinyi, 21-19 24-22 in the semi-finals the previous day. Xia partnered Xue Chen to capture the gold medal at this year’s Asian Beach Volleyball Championships in Australia in March.
A total of 26 gold medals were at stake on Sunday, the final day of the tense battle. Hosts Vietnam ruled the roost with 11 gold medals including five in traditional martial arts. Iran claimed three gold, while Laos and Qatar shared two gold apiece and Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Pakistan and Mongolia won one gold each.
The Asian Beach Games or ABG, organised by the Olympic Council of Asia and described as the second largest multi-sport event after the Asian Games, is a Pan-continental multi-sport event held every two years among athletes from all over Asia.