Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 21, 2017 – Thailand, making a clean sweep of both men’s and women’s titles achieved two years ago in Singapore, are out to defend their SEA Games titles when the 29th South East Asian Games Volleyball Championship kicked off on Monday at the MITEC Hall 11.
A total of eight teams are taking part in the Southeast Asia’s biennial top-flight competition, with eight teams contesting the men’s team event and only six in the women’s competition. In the men’s category, reigning champions Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and hosts Malaysia are in Pool A, with Vietnam, Philippines, Timor Leste and Indonesia in Pool B.
In the women’s event, Myanmar, Indonesia and perennial winners Thailand are in Pool A, while Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam are featured in Pool B.
The pool round-robin preliminaries in the men’s event started on Monday, while the women’s preliminaries will be held on Wednesday. After the August 21-25 preliminaries, only top two teams from each pool will advance to the cross semi-finals on August 26, with the Pool A winners taking on Pool B runners-up and Pool B winners pitted against Pool A runners-up. The winners in this round will battle it out for the SEA Games crown on August 27, while the losers will contest the third-place playoff.
Since the inception of the SEA Games volleyball competition in 1977 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Indonesia have won the most SEA Games title with 9 gold, 6 silver and 2 bronze in the men’s event, while Thailand came in second place at the medal count with 7 gold including a clean sweep of the last three Games in Palembang, Indonesia in 2011, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar in 2013 and Singapore in 2015. The Thai men’s team also claimed additional 5 silver and 4 bronze medals.
In the women’s competition, Thailand proved their superiority by sweeping 12 SEA Games golds including successive eight-time SEA Games titles.
The men’s team event kicked off on Monday, with Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam registering their first victories. Thailand survived strong challenge from Myanmar to power past the tough rivals in hard-fought three-setter 25-22 25-19 29-27, while Vietnam, runners-up at the previous edition in Singapore, outclassed the Philippines in comfortable straight sets 25-19 25-21 25-20 and Malaysia put it past Cambodia 25-18 30-28 25-17.
Thailand’s chances of retaining their SEA Games title in Malaysia are not that easy in the men’s event. At the recent Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship in Surabaya, Indonesia, the Thai side did not perform well to finish a distant 11th in the top-tier competition, while neighbouring countries Vietnam proved a step better with a 10-place finish. Indonesia defied against all odds to beat Iran and Qatar en route to claiming their historic fourth place, the first time in 42-year history that they made it to the top four teams in the Asian meet. For a successful title defence, Thailand have to come out and prove their talents against many strong rivals.
Thailand’s prospects in the women’s team has soared following their exceptional performances in international competitions this year including a stunning win over the Rio Olympic Games winners Brazil, Turkey and Italy in the recent World Grand Prix and the second-place finish at the last week’s Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship in Manila, Philippines.
The women’s event will start on Wednesday, with Thailand taking on Indonesia and Malaysia challenging Vietnam.
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