The Olympic games are not yet over but several Southeast Asian countries are already celebrating their historic victories this year.
Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling gained instant global fame after defeating Olympic champions Michael Phelps of the United States and Chad le Clos of South Africa in the 100m butterfly event at Rio 2016.
Aside from Schooling, three other athletes from Southeast Asia have won a gold medal in Rio as of this writing. They were Thai weightlifters Sukanya Srisurat and Sopita Tanasan, and Vietnamese shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh.
Schooling’s victory was special because it gave Singapore its first ever Olympic gold medal.
— Channel NewsAsia (@ChannelNewsAsia) August 13, 2016
Sports fans highlighted that Schooling defeated Phelps, his sports idol whom he first met eight years ago.
Singapore's Joseph Schooling meeting Michael Phelps in 2008 & Schooling beating Phelps for gold last night pic.twitter.com/ErlhxlN0Vx
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 13, 2016
Meanwhile, Southeast Asia’s first gold medal in Rio was courtesy of Thailand’s Sopita Tanasan who won the weightlifting women’s 48-kilogram category.
News of her victory was cheered in particular by her fellow compatriots from Chumphon province, where officials even vowed to pave the road leading to her village in honor of her victory.
Team Thailand scores gold!Sopita Tanasan crushes it for the Kingdom, winning 1st weightlifting gold medal. Congrats! pic.twitter.com/xajPOejWYq
— Glyn T. Davies (@GlynTDavies) August 7, 2016
Thailand’s second gold medal was won by Sukanya Srisurat who set an Olympic record of 110 kilograms for weightlifting in the 58-kilogram category.
sukanya srisurat sets a new Olympic record in the snatch (110kg) and wins gold in the women's 58kg weight class pic.twitter.com/qZ4LLDA4LU
— Amy P (@spicylychee) August 8, 2016
The victory of Hoang Xuan Vinh in the 10m air pistol category was also memorable because it gave Vietnam its first ever Olympic gold medal.
Sports commentators mentioned that Vinh’s victory was remarkable since he is short-sighted and he practiced with paper targets and a shortage of ammunition because of funding constraints.
Vietnam just won its first ever Olympic medal with Hoàng Xuan Vinh taking the men's 10m air pistol https://t.co/vGVI50ElMg
— Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor) August 7, 2016
As expected, news of Vinh's victory became a trending topic in Vietnam:
Vietnam won their first ever gold this morning, then made Hoang Xuan Vinh the biggest search trend back home. pic.twitter.com/IqYaIHHBcJ
— Google (@google) August 7, 2016
Singapore and Vietnam are rejoicing after finally winning a gold medal in the Olympics. Thailand has already won two golds this year.
The Philippines has not yet bagged a gold victory but it got its first Olympic medal in twenty years after Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn F. Diaz claimed silver in in the women’s 53-kilogram weightlifting.