Nualla, Aranar lead mighty bounce back of Filipino dancers | Inquirer Sports
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Nualla, Aranar lead mighty bounce back of Filipino dancers

/ 04:30 AM May 18, 2022
Philippines' Sean Mischa Aranar (top) and Nualla Ana Leonila Manalo compete in the dancesport event during the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Hanoi on May 16, 2022. (Photo by Nhac NGUYEN / AFP)

Philippines’ Sean Mischa Aranar (top) and Nualla Ana Leonila Manalo compete in the dancesport event during the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Hanoi on May 16, 2022. (Photo by Nhac NGUYEN / AFP)

HANOI—The Philippine national anthem was played just once at the start of dancesport events in the 31st Southeast Asian Games here.

For a country that dominated the discipline with 10 gold medals in 2019, a lone triumph wasn’t good enough.

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Ana Nualla knew that.

“We kept hearing national anthems of different countries during the awarding ceremony. So I told Sean (Aranar, her partner) jokingly that on Monday, everyone will get tired of hearing our national anthem.”

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Turns out, she was dead serious.

The country’s dancesport athletes took home four gold medals on Monday night, leading to four podium ceremonies that featured the national anthem at Long Bien Gymnasium in the outskirts of this history-rich capital city.

“We know that we had to deliver, because the first day we didn’t win enough,” said Nualla who, along with Aranar, collected gold medals in tango, Viennese waltz and standard combined.

Mark Gayon and Mary Joy Renigen grabbed the slow foxtrot title that same day to add to the chachacha triumph of Michael Angelo Marquez and Stephanie Sabalo on Sunday.

The four-pair Philippine team was looking to extend the country’s dominance in the highly subjective sport and was sent to international training in Europe before being gathered in a bubble training camp in Cebu City weeks before the biennial games started.

“That’s a solid training camp [in Cebu City],” said Nualla who went to Lithuania along with Aranar twice in the last two years to train under a Lithuanian coach.

“It was really a different program we had compared to the 2019,” said Nualla.

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That training nearly faced scrutiny after faring poorly compared to 2019, but the dancers were confident enough to know that Sunday’s one-gold performance was an aberration.

“[W]e did what we had to do. We were very scared but we turned our fear into something positive,” Nualla said.


Inquirer’s special coverage of the Hanoi SEA Games 2021.

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