Myanmar wins first gold | other | Hindustan Times
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Myanmar wins first gold

Myanmar won its first two gold medals at the Asian Games in the popular southeast Asian sport of sepaktakraw on Saturday, though the excitement proved too great for a team official who fainted and was hospitalised.

other Updated: Nov 27, 2010 12:52 IST

Myanmar won its first two gold medals at the Asian Games in the popular southeast Asian sport of sepaktakraw on Saturday, though the excitement proved too great for a team official who fainted and was hospitalised.

The golds came on the final day of competition at the Asian Games for the resource-rich country which has been ruled by a military-backed government for nearly 50 years.

"We're very much pleased, honoured and very happy," said Myanmar men's doubles captain Si Thu Lin, who led his team to a 2-0 win over South Korea in the skillful sport that involves shuttling a rattan ball over a net with the feet, head and chest.

For the tiny, but vocal band of Myanmar supporters who waved flags and cheered every point, there was more joy to come, when the Myanmar women's doubles team clinched a second gold in a nail-biting contest against a resurgent China duo.

After a tie breaker that saw both sides go neck and neck in desperate, fighting rallies, Myanmar finally nicked it 17-16 with Burma's team leader, Nyan Htun, taken away on a stretcher by emergency medical personnel and rushed to hospital.

"He was shocked ... and just collapsed," Myanmar's head coach Kyaw Zin Moe told Reuters as medics checked his vital signs. His latest condition wasn't immediately clear.

The double sporting victory for Myanmar comes at a politically sensitive time for the nation just weeks after it held an election widely condemned as rigged to prolong military power behind a facade of democracy.

The Asian Games kicked off on November 12, just a day before Burmese democracy icon and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was released after seven years of house arrest.

Myanmar's players and officials, who wrapped themselves in the nation's new flag and paraded around the court basking in the glory, steadfastly avoided talking politics.

At a post match news conference when the matter of Suu Kyi's release was raised, the players chuckled politely and an Asian Games official cut off the coach in mid-sentence. "Only questions related to the match may be directed," said the official.

Afterwards, Moe, the Burmese coach said the team were in Guangzhou when Suu Kyi was freed and he didn't know the latest.

"We're not interested. Sport and politics are very different. If you want to be a good player you just have to concentrate on sports, not business, not politics and not social welfare."

Some fans, however, spoke hopefully of the 65-year-old, considered a symbol of the struggle against dictatorship in one of the world's most oppressive countries.

"I think it's important to have peace," said Dedee, a 22-year-old Burmese software engineering student. "We don't understand this political stuff, but after her release we hope she can contribute something to our country, not just fight the government but have dialogue with it."