Việt Nam's Nguyễn Trần Thanh Tự in action when leading Filipino legend Efren Reyes 12-6 in the semi - finals. VNA/VNS Photo Khánh Hòa
HÀ NỘI — Nguyễn Trần Thanh Tự didn’t need to break a sweat as he triumphed in the men's one-cushion carom on May 19, due to his opponent Phạm Quốc Tuấn’s withdrawal.
The all–Vietnamese final at Hà Đông Gymnasium wasn’t able to take place as Tuấn was positive with COVID-19 the day before and couldn’t attend the match.
With the result, Tự defended the hosts’ SEA Games one–cushion carom title, Tuấn finished second while the bronze is shared between Filipino Efren Reyes and Francisco Dela Cruz.
For Đoàn Tuấn Anh, leader of the Việt Nam Billiard & Snooker team at the SEA Games 31, Tuấn’s absence was a shame, but there was no other way due to the Games’ regulation.
“According to the regulations of the Organising Committee, in all sports, athletes who are positive with COVID-19 cannot attend any match,” Tuấn Anh said.
“Because Tuấn got COVID-19 on the night of May 18, he was not allowed to play in the final.
“The silver medal will be brought to Tuấn by a team representative.”
It was a happy ending for the hosts’ billiards dream, but not quite what the fans were hoping for.
Lương Văn Hà, a local from Thanh Xuân district, spent his whole morning with his friends at the gymnasium to enjoy the final that never happened.
“It was unlucky that the final couldn’t happen,” Hà said.
“I came to watch the final, not to cheer for anyone because both players are Vietnamese. What we want to see are the shots of professionals and the intense mind battles between two excellent players of the country.
“We are here to cheer for all the players. However, I’m extremely happy that my country won both gold and silver medals in this category.”
Tự, on his way to the title, has shown outstanding performances including the once–in–a–lifetime semi-final win against the legendary Efren “Bata” Reyes.
The semis saw Tự surpass the Filipino pool master with a score of 100 – 55, while Tuấn bettered Francisco Dela Cruz to show the hosts’ complete domination in this category.
Nguyễn Trần Thanh Tự, 26, ranks in the top 70 and is considered one of the most promising Vietnamese pool players.
In 2019, Tự (ranked 616th at the time) shocked the billiards world after beating the legendary Frederic Caudron of Belgium at the World Cup held in Hồ Chí Minh City.
A year later, he reached the quarter-finals of the Antalya World Cup and rose 80 places from 142nd to 62nd in the world carom ranking.