|Dazzling display:The 27th SEA Games officially opened yesterday in Nay Pyi Taw, with the particpations of all 11 member nations. — VNS Photos Quang Thang
HA NOI (VNS)— Myanmar officially opened the 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games yesterday with a flashy ceremony in the capital of Nay Pyi Taw.
The event has been billed as a coming-out party for the country, which is emerging from decades of international isolation.
Tens of thousands of people witnessed a lavish spectacle of lights and pyrotechnics at the ceremony.
Fireworks exploded above the 30,000-seat, specially-built Wunna Theikdi Stadium, as a series of screens beamed a dramatic light show during the extravaganza.
The 22-day Games were formally opened when a bare-chested warrior in a chariot fired a blazing arrow to light a symbolic flame in a large cauldron set high in the stadium.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, U Tint San, Union Minister of Sports, said: "It gives me great pride and tremendous honour to welcome you all to this truly momentous occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the 27th SEA Games."
"Firstly, I would like to convey my heartfelt gratitude to all the members of the Southeast Asian Games Federation countries and our friends for their full support and great trust in Myanmar to host the 27th Games.
"In the sense of green, authenticity, transparency, understanding, warmness, cleanliness and friendship, we are hosting the Games in line with the motto of ‘Green, Clean and Friendship'.
"Hosting the SEA Games is not simply engaging in sports competition, but it is, indeed, an honour and privilege to present the cultural exchanges, fraternal ties and cordial relations among Southeast Asian countries, as Myanmar believes it is able to promote similar conduct in the field of sports," added the minister.
San also confirmed that there would be 33 sporting events held and they would be conducted under the guidelines of the International Sport Federations and SEA Games Federation Charter and Rules. Also, 460 gold medals will be awarded to winners of events.
|National pride: Vietnamese athletes march at the SEA Games opening ceremony. The team aims to make the top three at the biennial tournament.
San said he hoped that all of athletes would show their skills and talents in competition, in a sense of fair-play and good sportsmanship.
Vice President U Nyan Htun then expressed his warm welcome and best wishes to all participants. On behalf of Myanmar, the president and people, he said he appreciated and thanked all participants and guests for their contributions in an effort to make the Games successful and declared the opening of the 27th Games.
It is the third time Myanmar has hosted the Games. The first and second Games were held in Myanmar in 1961 and 1969.
The SEA Games are held every two years, offering regional bragging rights and a chance for athletes from lesser sporting nations to shine in sports, ranging from athletics to the obscure cane-ball game chinlone, as well as martial arts vovinam and pencak silat. Competition has already finished in some events.
But the bulk of the competition begin today and continues until the closing ceremony on December 22.
Viet Nam's Nguyen Thanh Dat won the first shooting title, and a gold medal, yesterday at the 10th SEA Games in Yangon, Myanmar.
Dat successfully captured first place in the men's individual 50m rifle prone event with 201.3 points.
Thailand's Napis Tortungpanich came in second with 200 points, followed by Lim Wen Abel of Singapore, who received 180.3 points.
"It is not a strong point of Viet Nam, in general, or for myself. However, in all competitions I always admire and think of victory," said Dat at the shooting range.
Dat did not have a good start, but later proved his skills with accuracy through the final shooting.
"I was a little nervous at the beginning, but I took a deep breath, kept calm and focused, because I had my self-confidence, which I believe is important to help reach success. It is what I have learnt from a recent training course in South Korea," said the Thanh Hoa Province-born shooter.
Dat's victory was a surprise to the team, as he is not the highest ranked among the three Vietnamese marksmen competing in this event.
SEA Games two-time champion Nguyen Duy Hoang, who was expected to reach the top three competitors, failed in this event, ranking fifth overall.
Earlier, Dat, Hoang and Phung Le Huyen won a silver medal in the team's event.
The trio earned 1,837.6 points, which was 3.4 points less than the champions from Thailand, while hosts Myanmar earned 1,835.1 to win the bronze medal.
"Dat is a freshman on the national team, so he really wants to show off his abilities. He told me that he would win the event minutes before the competition, and he did it," said coach Nguyen Thi Nhung. "Winning two medals, one gold and one silver in the first day, is really a wonderful start for us. That will be a strong driving force for the whole team in the coming days. They will be more confident to win not only medals, but also break records," Nhung said.
The shooting team will continue their competition today in the women's 50m rifle prone in both individual and team events.
The shooting team set a target of two gold medals.
Muay team ready
Viet Nam's Muay team will depart for Myanmar today for competitions which are to be held from December 15-21.
Seven male and four female athletes, including Nguyen Ngo Trieu Nhat (51kg), Vo Van Dai (63,5kg), Truong Quoc Hung (71kg), Bui Thi Quynh (48kg) and Phan Thi Ngoc Linh (57kg), were selected to compete in this event.
"Our goal is taking at least two gold medals at SEA Games 27. However, we do not order specific quotas for any athlete, to avoid pressure, because we believe that all of them can win a gold medal," said Giap Trung Thang, the coach of Viet Nam's Muay team.
To prepare for the tournament, the team attended a training course in Thailand from October 15 to November 3 and in Da Lat from November 12-23.
Viet Nam, with 10 gold medals, remains in second place in the ranking table.
Myanmar are still on top with 18 gold medals, while Thailand has replaced Indonesia in third place with six first place titles. — VNS