Aside From the Singaporean Swimmer Who Beat Michael Phelps, Meet the Other Southeast Asian Olympic Gold Medalists

Singapore's first ever Olympic gold medal. Photo from the official Facebook page of Singapore swimming champion Joseph Isaac Schooling.

Singapore's first ever Olympic gold medal. Photo from the official Facebook page of Singapore swimming champion Joseph Isaac Schooling.

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.

Sports fans highlighted that Schooling defeated Phelps, his sports idol whom he first met eight years ago.

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.

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.

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.

As expected, news of Vinh's victory became a trending topic in Vietnam:

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.

Read more of our special coverage: Joy, Disappointment and Injustice at the Rio Olympics

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