Filipina power shines on SEA Games Day 7
MANILA, Philippines — Very few knew who Christine Hallagos was coming into the 30th Southeast Asian Games, what with all the marathon attention focused on the celebrated Mary Joy Tabal.
The reedy 27-year-old rookie–a mother of one–who was supposed to be the pacer to set the stage up for Tabal, ran her heart out and highlighted women power on Day 7 of this region’s Olympics, as the Philippines continued to hold the pursuing pack at bay in the overall race despite its leanest harvest of seven gold medals this week.
“I was praying to God that He give my body strength because I don’t want my sacrifices to go to waste,” Hallagos said in Filipino after the win, which many didn’t see coming considering that she was up against Tabal, five-time national champion and perennial SEA Games gold medalist.
“I left my daughter at home and this is the first time I was away from her. I didn’t want to let my sacrifices go to waste,” said Hallagos, a former sprinter who fought off cramps on both legs in the final kilometers, but still managed to clock in at two hours, 56 minutes and 56 seconds.
“I didn’t expect to win because this is my first time [in the SEA Games]. I just wanted to bring home a medal,” she said.
Bianca Pagdanganan, meanwhile, also turned back fancied bets from Thailand over at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac to win the women’s individual gold medal and keep the Philippines on track toward a double, with the team championship to be disputed in the next two days and the country coming into the match play phase as the No. 1 seed.
First judo gold
Mariya Takahashi, another Japanese-Filipino like Kiyome Watanabe who won the first judo gold on Thursday, triumphed in the 70-kg division.
Similarly, Menchi Sandi became the fourth woman to win gold for the Philippines for the day after ruling the individual 5kX20 obstacle course race at Filinvest in Muntinlupa.
Takahashi scored an ippon against Thai opponent Surattana Thongsri at the 1:55 mark of the match to give the Filipino judokas their third gold in the biennial meet.
Obstacle course race athletes actually swept their events after an athletics reject in Melvin Guarte capped a great day for them by ruling the 5K x 20 obstacles race for men in runaway fashion, making for a grand total of six gold medals chipped in to the Philippine cause, and becoming the third-biggest contributor to the country’s cache after the 14 golds of arnis and 10 of dancesports.
Incidentally, the arnis and dancesports totals put the country inexorably ahead in the overall race, with Filipinos still leading with a 71-55-50 (gold-silver-bronze) total as of 7:34 p.m. Friday.
Team Philippines opened up the competition with 22 gold medals on Monday and pocketed nine in each of the last three days prior.
Indonesia grabbed second spot from Vietnam with a 40-41-47 tally, as Vietnam lost steam and is now two golds down in third with a 38-41-52 slate.
David William Pelino, Robert Andrew Garcia, Reymark Bergonia and Jemyca Aribado pocketed the mixed team event gold of squash, even as Michael Ver Anton Comaling of modern pentathlon ruled the beach triathle individual event for men to round out the country’s gold harvest.
Pagdanganan turned back three talented Thais who gave chase all day, as she checked an impending collapse in the closing holes by playing her best to win by three shots, thus validating her becoming as big a name as Yuka Saso, the country’s former national team spearhead.
The 22-year-old Pagdanganan, who will play in the very lucrative US LPGA starting next year, erased a one-stroke deficit heading into the final three holes, riding a string of good play–and a spate of bad ones by Thailand’s Kan Bunnabodee–to win with conviction and, more importantly, line her team up for a solid shot at another gold medal as play shifts to match.
Last three holes
“I didn’t hit shots as good as I hit them on [Thursday], but I did come out good in the last three holes,” said Pagdanganan, who was Saso’s chief backup last year in the Asian Games in Jakarta, where she won a bronze medal that went with her team gold. “It was a really tough day.”
Team Philippines drew a bye in the first round of match play and will see action in the semifinals on Saturday. The format is a bit tricky as the coaching staff will pick just two of its three players to play in one round, with their combined match play scores to determine whether the side wins or not. The finals will be played on Sunday, with coach Nico Alejandro having Pagdanganan, Lois Kaye Go and Abby Arevalo to choose from.
The Philippines settled for bronze medals in the men’s and women’s divisions of beach volleyball over at Subic Tennis court.
Jaron Requinton and Jude Garcia thumped the Kingsley Tai-Ray Meng Trevis Tan tandem from Singapore, 25-23, 21-13, in the deciding match for the men’s bronze, while the women’s team of Sisi Rondina, Bernadeth Pons, Dzi Gervacio and Dij Rodriguez swept the Singaporeans in two games.
Rondina-Pons defeated Serene Ng and Ee Shan Lau, 21-17, 21-13, while Gervacio and Rodriguez humbled Eliza Chong and Gladys Lee, 21-18, 21-16.
The last time the Philippines bagged a medal in women’s beach volleyball was in the 2005 SEA Games in Manila, courtesy of Heidi Ilustre and Diane Pascua.
The Philippines put seven muay thai fighters in the semifinals and expects another deluge of gold medals, as combat sports like karatedo and taekwondo get off the ground on Saturday.