PETALING JAYA: Two rookies and a seasoned campaigner got their acts right to bag Malaysia's first gold medal of the 24th SEA Games in the shooting competition at the Sports Authority of Thailand Shooting Range in Bangkok yesterday.
Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi, making her fourth appearance in the biennial Games, combined with Haslisa Hamed and Nur Ain Ibrahim to win the women's 50m rifle prone team event with a total of 1,755.
Defending champions Thailand finished second on 1,745 and Indonesia took bronze on 1,743.
But there was heartbreak for Suryani in the individual event. She settled for the silver, losing to Myanmar's Than Than Saw on count-back.
Suryani and Than Than were tied on 587 after six rounds. But the Myanmar shooter was declared the winner for her final-round effort of 99 against a 96 by Suryani, who was an individual gold medallist at the last Games in Manila after taking silver in Hanoi in 2003.
Nur Ain and Haslisa, both 21, finished fourth and fifth respectively in the individual competition. They were tied on 584 but Nur Ain was placed ahead for a perfect 100 in the final round against 98 for Haslisa.
The 25-year-old Suryani, who has been down with a bout of cough since she arrived in Bangkok five days ago, expressed mixed feelings over her performance on the opening day of competition.
“I'm happy that we got the team gold but disappointed over missing out on the individual title. But winning this team gold provides a big boost to my younger team-mates to do better in the remaining events,” said Suryani, who will also compete in the 50m rifle three-position event.
The rifle shooters had trained in Langkawi for weeks prior to the SEA Games. By emerging with the best performance among the trio, Suryani is in good stead to put up strong challenges in the Asian Championships in Kuwait from Dec 3-13.
The SEA Games shooting competition began before the official opening of the regional sports carnival in Korat on Dec 6 to allow the shooters to compete in the last Asian qualifiers for the Beijing Olympics.
Malaysia also had two other women shooters in action yesterday in the 25m pistol event but they failed to make it to the top eight final. Devi Das Ishvari (560) and Nor Erffani Abdul Malick (559) were placed 10th and 11th.
Vietnam's Nguyen Thu Van took gold on 574 points and Thailand's Pruckasakorn Tanyaporn bagged the silver on 573. Vietnam also won the team gold on 1,702 and Thailand again settled for the bronze on 1,693.