Team PH breaches 100-gold mark
MANILA, Philippines — With the overall championship all but tucked away as early as Saturday, Team Philippines stayed busy by putting the trimmings on its victory cake in the 30th Southeast Asian Games with another gold medal avalanche on Day 9 threatening to make all the other countries in the field look so bad.
A pole vaulter again smashed a Games record and the Philippine ladies swept the golf golds with a team triumph to remember to highlight a 20-gold day as the country breached the 100-gold mark and had 274 medals overall as of 8 p.m. on Sunday, with its tally of 105-81-88 (gold-silver-bronze) a clear 40 wins ahead of Indonesia with Vietnam another five behind in the race now reduced to one for the crumbs.
There are three more days of action left before the lights are shut on what the country promised as the best SEA Games ever, and the Philippines — after putting up 56 events — can obliterate the old overall mark it also holds when it won 112 gold medals when it last hosted the biennial meet in 2005 and won its first overall championship.
After athletics provided such a high on Saturday with record-breaking performances by Kristina Knott in the women’s 200 meters and pole vaulter EJ Obiena, Eric Cray was a big disappointment, getting disqualified after two false starts and failing to get out of the heats in the centerpiece 100-meter dash for men.
100-meter dash heartbreak
Knott, meanwhile, missed becoming the region’s fastest woman after losing the century dash by a hair to Vietnam’s Tu Chien Le, who beat the Filipino-American by a tenth of a second after clocking 11.54 seconds.
“My legs went numb. My nerves got the better of me,” admitted Knott, who clocked 23.01 in setting the new Games mark in the 200 meters.
With the defeat, Knott failed to duplicate a Philippine feat last achieved by the great Elma Muros-Posadas in 1995.
Bets from the field made up for those twin defeats later as the charming Natalie Uy cleared 4.25 meters for a new pole vault record for women that, of course, went with the gold. Counting Obiena’s victory on Saturday, it marked the first time in Games history that the Philippines swept both pole vault divisions.
“It’s great winning for the Philippines,”said the 25-year-old Uy, who is from Kettering, Ohio, and who will campaign in the indoor world championships next.
Sarah Dequinan became the toughest woman of these Games after claiming victory in heptathlon, tallying 5,101 points to become the first Filipino to win the event since Muros-Posadas in Kuala Lumpur 18 years ago.
Lois Kaye Go sealed the Philippines’ sweep by forging an all-square match against Malaysian ace Ashley Lau as the Filipinos, like they did in upset style in the Asian Games in Jakarta last year, completed a double in women’s golf after Bianca Pagdanganan’s individual victory on Friday over Thailand’s Kan Bunnobodee.
It was the first time that the Philippines pulled out that trick in golf since Princess Superal anchored the 2013 team in Myanmar.
The Blu Girls pocketed the softball title for the 10th straight time — and doing it without a loss, still — after an 8-0 rout of Indonesia at The Villages Field in Mabalacat, Pampanga. Filipinos have lorded it over this event in all 10 years that the event has been held, the dominance starting in 1979.
“Of all the softball titles by the Blu Girls this is the easiest and the sweetest,” team manager Randy Dizer said. “It’s because we played in our home court, that’s the biggest thing.”
And that made up somewhat for the shock loss that the Blu Boys took at the hands of Singapore, even as the men’s baseball team made short work of Thailand, with a 15-2 win giving the Filipinos the gold medal.
Pauline Lopez handily beat Cambodia’s Chhoeung Aliza 10-3 to bag the gold in the women’s under 57-kilogram division of taekwondo, as Filipino warriors sustained a swashbuckling effort that started two days ago in judo, karate and the poomsae events.
Lopez, who was fighting in front of her parents for the first time in the SEA Games, connected on three shots early and protected that lead to the very end even as soft tennis contributed a second win to the Philippine haul with the 5-0 triumph of sisters Noelle Conchita MaÃ±alac and Noelle Camille Zoleta in the doubles event over Sawitre Naree and Natchatjira Kerdsomboon of Thailand representing the 100th gold medal of the Filipinos.
Sailors Emerson Villena and Lester Troy Tayong ruled the men’s international 470 for the country’s first gold medal in sailing that broke Thailand’s stranglehold of the sport somehow.
Villena and Tayong finished tied with Thailand’s Navee Thamsoontorn and Nut Butmarasri with 21 points, but pocketed the gold medal after winning four out of 10 races. The Thais only won three.
Tayong and Villena finally secured their first gold in the Games after settling for the silver in Singapore in 2015 Singapore and bronze in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
Lion’s share of gold
Thailand, though, still won the lion’s share of the golds disputed in the sport — 5-of-7 — with Chonakchon Wangsuk and Piyaporn Khemkaew topping the women’s international 470 and Kamolwan Chanym ruling the laser radial and Noppassorn Khunboonjan seizing victory in the optimist event.
Joane Caballero reigned in the lightweight women’s single sculls, completing the 2,000-meter race in seven minutes and 50.89 to defeat Thailand’s Rojjana Raclao (7:54.23) and Mutiara Putri of Indonesia (7:56.85).
“I was already satisfied with the gold that we won yesterday (Saturday). This win made me happier because it wasn’t expected at all,’’ said Caballero, who ruled the women’s doubles sculls with Joanie Delgaco.
Surfing contributed two gold medals with Roger Casogay winning the men’s longboard and Nilbie Blancada dominating the women’s shortboard open even as Jhondi Wallace won men’s wakeboard and Susan Larsson ruling the women’s side.
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