By John O'Brien
SINGAPORE, June 13 (Reuters) - Tiny East Timor won their first silver medal of the 28th Southeast Asian Games when Luisa dos Santos Rosa battled her way to the final of the women's under 49kg taekwondo event at Singapore's Expo Hall on Saturday.
The former Portuguese colony was mired to the bottom of the medals' table at the 11-nation multi-sports gathering on a single bronze until Santos Rosa eased past Cambodia's Chantheary Chem and Singapore's Nur Fadzlyn Binte Mohd Zahruddin earlier on Saturday.
The 22-year-old started well in the final and even had her boisterous supporters dreaming of a fourth SEA Games gold medal since East Timor first participated in the event in 2003 but her Thai opponent Chanatip Sonkham pulled away for a 22-9 win.
The silver took East Timor above Brunei in the standings with three days remaining but their joy is likely to be short-lived with the sovereign state's Nurulain binti Md Jaafar already through to the women's under 62kg final on Sunday.
Thailand enjoyed further success when Asian Games silver medallist Akkarin Kitwijarn eased to a 19-3 victory over Zaw of Myanmar in the men's under 63kg final but hopes of a hat-trick were dashed when Phannapa Harnsujin lost in the final contest of the night.
Phannapa was a strong favourite in the women's under 53kg division but let an early lead slip in her final against Indonesia's Mariska Halinda, losing out 8-6 despite racing to an early 3-0 lead.
Vietnam's Van Duy Nguyen was the other winner on Saturday, the 19-year-old cruising to a 23-9 victory over Filipino Francis Aaron Agojo to claim the men's under 58kg gold medal. (Editing by Ed Osmond)