PH ends 10-year gold medal drought in SEAG swimming
MANILA, Philippines — On a day when the Philippines was busy pocketing gold medals without much noise, James Deiparine created a loud one in the pool by snapping the country’s decadelong swimming medal drought and establishing a record in the Southeast Asian Games.
Athletes from sports of lesser light went about their business and helped sustain the Philippine onslaught toward the overall title in the 30th edition of the regional Olympics, until Deiparine added the glamorous one that counted the most on Wednesday night at Aquatics Center in New Clark City, considering that the win was a meet record and it announced the country’s return to the winner’s circle in the sport, ending years of disappointment and heartbreak.
Clocking one-minute and 1.46 seconds in the 100-meter breaststroke finals, Deiparine became the first Filipino swimmer after the trio of Miguel Molina, Ryan Arabejo and Daniel Coakley to win a Games gold. Trained in the United States, the 26-year-old Deiparine, whose mother is Filipino, nipped Vietnam’s Thanh Bao Pham and Singapore’s Chien Yin Lionel Khoo, who timed 1:01.92 and 1:01.98, respectively.
The win also validated Deiparine’s decision to not quit the national team after two silver medal finishes in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2017 as he now left his mark in this edition of the Games by shaving 0.14 seconds off the mark held by Nguyen Huu of Vietnam.
Incidentally, that standard stood as long as the last time the Philippines won a gold medal in swimming.
“When I found out that the Philippines was hosting this one, it just really motivated me to just do my best and bring home the gold,” said Deiparine, who swam in front of his parents in an event of this magnitude for the first time. “I feel really great, after gaining two silvers last time, it’s always my goal to bring home the gold for the Philippines.”
With nine gold medals for the second straight day, the Philippines has a 57-42-22 gold-silver-bronze tally. Vietnam was still running second with 27-32-33, while Malaysia was a far third with 21-12-21 as of 7:48 p.m. on Wednesday.
Deiparine will swim in two more events, the 50-m breast and the 4×100 medley relay to cap what could go down as a successful Philippine team career as he pursues a law degree in the United States.
Remedy Rule, another Filipino-American, was the first one who had a crack at ending the long Philippine drought, only to lose on the tap to five-time champion Quah Jing Wen of Singapore in the 200-m butterfly.
Rule checked in at 2:10.99 surpassing the meet record of 2:11.12 by Nguyen Thi Anh of Vietnam in 2015. But the 18-year-old Quah beat her by a hair, clocking in 2:10.97.
Day 4 biggest contributors
Obstacle course athletes cornered four gold medals and were Day 4’s biggest contributors to the Philippine cause, with Kyle Redentor, Kaizen dela Serna, Monolito Divina and Deanne Nicole Moncada ruling the mixed team assist 400m X 12 event.
Another quartet — Diana Buhler, Jeffrey Reginio, Klymille Keilah Rodriguez and Nathaniel Sanchez — also bagged gold, this time in the mixed relay 400m X 12 obstacles.
Rochelle Sanchez and Kevin Jeffrey Pascua later completed a sweep for Team Philippines in the event after ruling the women’s and men’s individual 100m x 10 obstacles events, respectively.
Only two more events will be played on Friday—the 5-km x 20 obstacles individual for men and women, the toughest events in the calendar that the Filipinos are also favored to rule.
The tandem of Jearome Calica and Joemar Gallaza of muay thai triumphed in the Thai boxing dance ritual event, collecting an average of 9.59 points in the double-round event. They credited a 40-day training camp in Thailand, the country where the sport originated, for the win.
“I think the impact of our power and technique gave us the advantage,” Calica said in Filipino.
Bianca Pagdanganan had the women’s golf team come out swinging over at tree-lined Luisita Golf Club in Tarlac, where she returned a two-under-par 70 for the individual lead that boosted the Philippine team to a two-stroke edge over title-favorite Thailand and the world’s No. 1 amateur, Atthaya Thitikul.
Bound for the US LPGA next year, the long-hitting Pagdanganan birdied three of her last five holes over the demanding layout softened by Typhoon “Tisoy” (international name: Kammuri), grabbing the lead from Kan Bunnabodee of Thailand, who fired a 71.
Counting Lois Kaye Go’s 73, the Philippines tallied 143 after throwing away the 79 of rookie Abby Arevalo. The Thais counted the 74 of Pimnipa Panthong and disregarded Thitikul’s 75 for their 145.
Expectations are high for this batch of Nationals even with Yuka Saso opting to try her luck in the lucrative Japan PGA. Pagdanganan is seen by many as the next best thing and a perfect match to the talented Thais because of her length over a course that is not that long.
“I could have done better,” said Pagdanganan, who hit all but one green, which proved to be her only bogey that came on the par-4 15th. “I could have shaved 2-3 strokes off but made some mistakes.”
Carlos Yulo, whom the hometown crowd at Rizal Memorial Coliseum had wanted to close out gymnastics competition with a bang, settled for three silver medals as he came up short in the horizontal bars, parallel bars and vault events.
The reigning world floor exercise champion, the 19-year-old, pint-sized Yulo still ended his most successful SEA Games stint to date with two gold medals, a far cry from his target, which reportedly was to sweep all the events he entered.
Kristel Macrohon, meanwhile, practically said there was another name to regard in Philippine weightlifting when she won the 71-kilogram event with a lift of 216 kg at Ninoy Aquino Stadium for the sport’s second gold that came after Olympian Hidilyn Diaz’s 55-kg hardware.
Macrohon’s effort, though, was just 5 kg better than Diaz’s total lift, though the difference in their weight categories is 16 kg.
Shooting’s Marly Martir won the WA 1500 PPC women’s individual gold before coming back later to anchor the country’s trio with Elvie Baldivino and Franchette Shayne Quiros to the team title of the same class.
One big disappointment that came on Day 4 was the exit of the Young Azkals from the football competitions despite scoring a 6-1 win over Timor Leste. The Philippine Team got the boot because of an inferior goal difference after Cambodia defeated Malaysia, 3-1, in another match.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.