|Capital spectacle sets stage for Myanmar’s SEA Games gold rush
Myanmar set its sights on 100 gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games after stunning guests with a lavish opening ceremony.
The sports ministry's deputy director-general Onh Myint Oo said the hosts, who have not topped the SEA Games medals table since the 1960s, were going for 100 gold and maybe more.
“We are targeting 100 gold medals and hopefully more,'' he told AFP.
Myanmar won just 16 gold medals at the previous edition in 2011 and has not
finished top of the medals table since last hosting the regional tournament in 1969.
But Myanmar, put on an impressive spectacle in Wednesday's opening ceremony, whose scale and quality took some observers by surprise.
“People are happy across the country. They had tears in their eyes, it was the best opening ceremony at any SEA Games,'' said Onh Myint Oo, one of the ceremony's key organizers.
“We are grateful to the Chinese for their help with the opening ceremony,'' he added.
China has provided nearly US$33 million in technical assistance for the Games, including the opening and closing ceremonies.
The opening ceremony took place at the purpose-built, 30,000-seat Wunna Theikdi stadium, one of several new venues in the capital Naypyidaw.
However Myanmar will face stiff competition, not least from 2011 hosts and table-toppers Indonesia, who are aiming for 150 gold.
Indonesia finished with 182 gold two years ago but the chairman of Prima, the body in charge of preparing the country's athletes, said funding cuts have since taken their toll. Surya Dharma said 115 to 147 gold medals “is a reasonable target.’’
Initial competition started on December 1 but most events got under way today following the opening ceremony.