BY STARSPORT TEAM
NAYPYITAW: It may have nothing to do with Malaysia but one can’t help but feel for Filipino swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi, who had to surrender the gold medal she won in the women’s 100m freestyle on the opening night of pool action on Thursday.
The London Olympics swimmer had won narrowly over two Singaporean rivals to become the first Filipino woman swimmer to triumph at the SEA Games since Akiko Thomson won in 1995 in Manila.
The medals ceremony took place, the flags were raised and the Filipino national anthem was played out but the results were nullified later that night after Thailand officials filed a protest, which was later upheld by the organisers.
It seemed that everyone jumped into the water on the first horn except the Thai swimmer Natthanan Junkrajang, who waited for the second horn before jumping in.
The protest was upheld because of a second horn but the race went on and the flag did not go down.
Jasmine had to surrender her gold medal and return the following day for the re-swim.
Junkrajang got the gold ahead of Singapore’s Quah Ting Wen in the re-swim while it was a Friday the 13th bummer for Philippines as Jasmine settled for the bronze instead.
Having covered many multi-Games meets before, we have to say this is the first time we are seeing a re-swim.
It is certainly an extraordinary situation that can only happen in the SEA Games.
The Philippine Olympic Committee later reached out to the Myanmar SEA Games organising committee to appeal the forfeiture of Jasmine’s victory.
Colonel Jeff Tamayo, the Philippine delegation head in Myanmar, was quoted by their media saying that they had filed a protest to the SEA Games Federation to stop the re-swim but to no avail.
Stripping the gold medal violates the principles of fair play and we take our hat off to Jasmine for her sportsmanship.
Jasmine could have just stayed off the pool and not taken part in the re-swim if she was bitter about being ordered to return her gold medal.
Deep in her heart, she must be gutted but she embodied the true sporting spirit, which is becoming rare in today’s sporting scene. No wonder she was getting praises from her fellow Filipinos back home.
In this situation, what the Myanmar organisers can do is to officially grant her a reception and present her with a symbolic gold medal.