SEA Games: With third place out of reach, Philippines looks to lock up No. 4
HANOI—A weightlifting first-timer pumped fresh blood to Team Philippines, which was making a last-ditch attempt to salvage fourth place Saturday night in the 31st Southeast Asian Games here.
Good thing the old reliables in tennis and billiards delivered on their promise, giving the erstwhile overall champion four gold medals with just one day left in competition. The Philippines’ harvest now stands at 47 golds, 64 silvers and 86 bronzes.
Singapore also ended the day with the same number of golds but its 47-44-65 dropped it to fifth place. Vietnam (173-102-100) continues to dominate in runaway fashion, while Thailand is second at (71-85-116). Indonesia (57-75-68) has practically cornered third place, which the country was targeting earlier.
But even with basketball and boxing expected to yield golds, it looks like the Philippines’ mission will be to lock up fourth place.
“There are too many gold medals that slipped our hands,” said chief of mission Ramon Fernandez. “I just hope we can still make it to No. 4.”
A ray of Olympic hope shone in weightlifting as 18-year-old Vanessa Sarno captured the gold medal in women’s 71 kilogram in record fashion.
She powered through the competition with explosive numbers: 104kg in snatch, 135 in clean and jerk for 239 total—all of them new meet records.
“I’m very emotional. This means a lot to me for personal reasons,” said Sarno, who last year won the Asian championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. “I know I will win it because we had a great training camp.”
Her support system includes no less than Olympic champion, Hidilyn Diaz whom Sarno looked up as a young kid growing up in Bohol: “She told me that in sports my life will change [for the better].”
Already she’s being groomed to take part in the Paris Olympics alongside several Diaz heirs apparent including Olympian Elreen Ando, who mustered a silver medal in women’s 64kg earlier.
“This is the face of our future. This is our bet for Paris,” said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella of Sarno. With Diaz on Friday retaining the 55kg title, the Philippines is looking for another gold through Kristel Macrohon who will see action in 71+kg on Sunday.
United States-based Ruben Gonzales and Treat Huey got even at Francis Casey Alcantara and Jeson Patrombon as tennis contributed a gold medal to the Philippine campaign.
The 2019 silver winners Gonzales and Huey scored 6-1, 6-4 victory over men’s doubles defending champions Alcantara and Patrombon at Hanaka Sports Center.
Gold medals in basketball are in the pipeline as the Gilas men’s and women’s remained unbeaten in the competition at Thanh Tri Gymnasium.
“We really treated this game [against Malaysia] as a preparation for tomorrow’s match against Indonesia,” said Gilas men’s coach Chot Reyes.
The men’s team battles Indonesia at 3 p.m., while the women’s squad faces Malaysia at 9 p.m.
Rubilen Amit won her second gold medal in the meet after a 7-5 victory over fellow Filipino Chezka Centeno for the women’s 10-ball crown. Carlo Biado snared the gold in the men’s side after a 9-3 triumph over compatriot Johann Chua.
Inquirer’s special coverage of the Hanoi SEA Games 2021.
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