Spectators of all ages and fans of Muay poured into the Vĩnh Phúc Sporting Hall for the semi-finals of the 6-day Muaythai competition. The stadium was filled with fans wearing Vietnamese colors, waving the Vietnamese flag and many took turns beating two large Vietnamese drums situated on opposite sides of the arena and clashing the symbols to cheer and support the spirit of the Vietnamese athletes on the field of play.
Vietnam gave a warm welcome to special guest VIPs, Honorary IFMA President Dr. Sakchye Tapsuwan and IFMA Secretary General Mr. Stephan Fox who flew in from Bangkok to support the athletes of the 31st SEA Games.
First on deck was Vietnam’s Ha Huu Hieu Huynh and Singapore’s Cheryl Gwa Wei Ying. Ha managed stay out of the Singaporean’s deadly clinch and brought her long-range A-game to the Singaporean earning her a chance for gold in the finals.
Next was Philippines’ Rudzma Abubakar against Thailand’s Kullanat Aonok. Thailand’s spice was no match for the Filipino as the Thai landed a series of heavy combinations to warrant a second-round stoppage and her place in the finals.
Lao’s Kay Ketnouvong and the Philippines’ Phillip “El Kapitan” Delarmino were next to take the stage. El Kapitan may have came into the match a little too relaxed as Kay delivered a sneaky head kick and 8 count at the start of the round. The 8 count quickly woke up Delarmino and he recovered strong, picking up momentum and points with each round to secure his chance for gold in the finals.
Vietnam’s Long Nguyen Doan and Thailand’s Chainarong Yawanophat battled it out in one of the most exciting matches of the afternoon. The spirit of the crowd with every cheer and beat of the drum shone through Long’s performance as he managed to counter every strike thrown from the Thai warrior and meticulously edged out the Thai and brought Vietnam to victory.
The next match of the afternoon saw Thailand’s Sirisopa Sirisak and Cambodia’s Tuon Srey Phin. Tuon showed great heart with her explosive hand combinations but they were no match for Sirisopa’s grit, power and strategy which brought Thailand the win.
The Home Team was next to take center stage and the fans of their seats with Vietnam’s Bang Thi Mai and the Philippines’ April Joy La Madrid with 3 rounds of non-stop action. These Muay Ying poured their heart into this clinch heavy semi-final match but it was Vietnam who went out with a Bang to earn her a chance for gold.
The next match was an entertaining match between the Home Team’s Truong Cao Minh Phat and Lao’s Noy Huksamueng. Both fighters had their eyes on gold as they battled neck and neck, round by round with every hit showcasing extra bite. Vietnam’s accuracy and strength managed to edge out the Laotian’s evasiveness and Truong sealed Vietnam’s clean sweep for the afternoon with a triumphant win.
The afternoon ended with a nail-biting match between Thailand’s Norapat Khundam and Cambodia’s Phearith Pao. The Thai brought everything but the kitchen sink to the Cambodian, but it was Phearith’s calm, collectedness and focus which earned him Team Cambodia’s only hope for gold in the finals.
Be sure to tune into the IFMA Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ifmamuaythaiofficial and watch the Finals of the 31st SEA Games this afternoon starting at 2:30pm ICT!