INQUIRER Sports Top 7 Stories of 2019: PH athletes deliver 1st SEA Games overall title in 14 years
There were no shortage of drama, celebrations and iconic moments this year in Philippine sports and there were some that stood out from the rest.
For the next several days, INQUIRER.net runs down the top 7 sports stories of 2019.
History has been rewritten after the Philippines ended a dreadful 14-year wait to become once again the sporting royalty in the Southeast Asian region.
The Philippines topped the medal tally of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games after an impressive performance of 149 gold, 117 silver, and 121 bronze medals.
Vietnam came in far second with a measly collection of 98 gold, 85 silver, and 105 bronze medals.
This was the Philippines’ haul in 2019 vastly eclipsed its exploits in 2005, when it hosted and topped the SEA Games with an effort of 113 gold, 85 silver, and 93 bronze medals.
What made the Philippines’ accomplishment in 2019 even more impressive was how several teams and athletes rewrote the history books one way or another.
Long considered as the premier basketball power in the region, the Philippines swept all of the sport’s gold medals in both the 5×5 and 3×3 formats.
Gilas was already expected to come away with the titles but it was the women who ultimately had the most impact.
Malaysia and Thailand had a duopoly in the women’s game with 13 and five gold medals, respectively, but Gilas Womens’ under the tutelage of Pat Aquino broke that mold to give the Philippines its first gold medal in the female circuit.
There was also surfer Roger Casoga, who not only displayed his golden talent on the waves but also his heart when he helped his opponent Arip Nurhidayat get back to his board after the Indonesian’s ankle leash got swept into the waters.
Agatha Wong earned a golden double in wushu in what became a testament to her hard work and dedication to the sport despite the negativity that went her way in the months prior and during the competition.
Her teammates in the sanda competition then went 5-of-6 in the gold medal matches making the Philippines the most successful country in the tiff.
Swimmer James Deiparine broke Philippine swimming’s decade-long medal drought when he conquered the men’s 100-meter breaststroke and in the process set a new SEA Games record with a time of 1:01.46.
The boxing team then displayed its pedigree with seven of its members all collecting gold medals including reigning middleweight champion and Aiba World Championships silver medalist Eumir Marcial, 2019 featherweight World champion Nesthy Petecio, and 2012 light flyweight World champion Josie Gabuco.
Hidilyn Diaz bolstered her Olympic preparations when she flexed her might in the women’s -55 kilogram division in the weightlifting event for the gold medal lifting of 211 kilograms.
A silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Diaz is well on her way for a slot in the 2020 Tokyo Games as she only has to maintain her no.4 seeding in the International Weightlifting Federation rankings.
A couple of international champions also made their respective statements in the SEA Games when pole-vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo collected their respective gold medals en route to Tokyo.
Obiena, the gold medalist in the 2019 Summer Universiade, secured his SEA Games title after clearing a record 5.45 meters surpassing the 5.35-meter mark that Thailand’s Porranot Purahong set in 2017.
Yulo, the gold medalist in the floor exercise competition of the 2019 World Championships, built up some momentum for the 2020 Games when he collected a couple of gold and five silver medals in gymnastics.
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