Team Philippines pads lead in SEA Games gold medal race
Margielyn Didal let her skating do the talking on the course for a Southeast Asian Games gold medal.
After that, she rattled off her mouth and used her victory to call out—to whoever would listen—for more support for the sport, which will be included in the Olympics for the first time when the Tokyo Games are held next year as the Philippines tries to end a century-long wait for its first gold medal there.
“Can you imagine, if we have more facilities, I’m sure there will be more [international] medals to come,” Didal said as she, together with another Olympic hopeful in judoka Kiyome Watanabe, drove the Philippine medal machine to another productive day on Thursday that padded the Filipinos’ lead over Vietnam in the overall race.
“We have to wake up. It’s just the first event in skateboarding and we already have three medals.”
The 20-year-old Didal, a street vendor’s daughter who bankrolled P6 million after her Asian Games win last year in Jakarta, Indonesia, ruled the game of skate event and was later on joined by Daniel Ledermann for a golden double. The third medal came from Christiana Means, who made it a 1-2 for the Philippines by finishing second to Didal.
As of 8 p.m. Thursday, the Philippines already has a tally of 65-45-34 (gold-silver-bronze) to sustain its inexorable march to a first overall title since 2005 when it last hosted the Games. The Vietnamese have 31-35-41, while Indonesia, which remained in third spot, has 27-36-39.
“You can expect more medals from us,” said Didal, whose constant exposure in the world circuit has obviously made her a talent worthy of a slot in Japan.
Didal talking was exactly the fireworks the Philippine contingent needed on a rather quiet day as Filipinos certainly found it difficult to duplicate the noise that James Deiparine created in the pool in New Clark City when he sank a long-standing 100-meter breaststroke record and snapped swimming’s decadelong gold medal drought.
Ledermann was pushed to the limit by 12-year-old Indonesian Basral Hutomo, needing to nail a 360 frontside shove-it and a laser flip to seal the gold.
Supreme in judo
Watanabe, born in Cebu to Filipino mother Irene but raised in Japan, won two matches to rule judo’s 63-kilogram division for women and reign supreme for the second straight year.
Shugen Nakano won another judo gold—the 66-kg division for men—at Laus Group Events in San Fernando, Pampanga, as the sport, which promised at least five gold medals to the Philippine cache before all of this is over, started off on the right foot.
Certainly, no one from among the other gold medal winners on Day 5 was able to duplicate the euphoria of a 52-point destruction that the Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team dealt on hapless Singapore also less than 24 hours before as the National Five go for a second straight win on Friday and are expected to take Vietnam apart on the road to the gold that matters most to this cage-crazed nation.
Almost barred from riding because of issues with her made-for-triathlon bike, Jermyn Prado was still able to touch off the Filipino blitz in Tagaytay in the morning by ruling the women’s road event individual time trial, clocking 44 minutes and 44.742 seconds over a 23.1-kilometer course as cycling contributed a third gold that came after the downhill events of mountain bike of Derrick Farr and Lea Belgira on Tuesday.
Singapore’s Yiwei Luo was second to Prado at 44:48.518 for the silver, while Phetdarin Somrat of Thailand settled for bronze (44:58.152).
Marella Salamat, who finished seventh in 45:59.275, was also threatened to not being allowed to ride until adjustments on her and Prado’s bikes were made in supervision of race officials.
“We nearly didn’t get to start the race. They said we should use road bikes. Our bikes were for triathlon but we managed to find a way to race,” said Prado, who will also take part in the women’s massed start Friday.
A fencer finally delivered as Jylyn Nicanor rallied in the final moments of the women’s individual saber finals to nip fancied Indonesian Diah Permatasari, 15-14, that touched off a wild celebration at World Trade Center in Pasay.
Nicanor came back from 8-5 going into the final round and from 14-13, her victory moving both protagonists to tears—with one because of obvious glee and the other of tremendous heartache.
Modern pentathlon’s Princess Arbilon and Samuel German ruled the mixed beach laser-run relay with a time of 13 minutes and 27.34 seconds. Five countries took part in this event’s debut.
“We really wanted to go all out in the relay after our performance in the individual races,’’ said German, an 18-year-old who claimed the silver medal in the men’s beach laser run earlier in the day.
It was also sweet redemption for Arbilon after missing a medal n the women’s individual race.“I was out of focus this morning. I had to adjust my mindset going into the race,’’ said the 17-year-old Arbilon, who was discovered by Ormoc City like German.
Competitors are required to shoot a target with a laser pistol five times from 10 meters before breaking into an 800-meter run, a routine they will repeat four times in a row.
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