Fierce, hungry arnisadors on target
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - December 2, 2019 - 12:00am

ANGELES, Pampanga, Philippines — A long 14-year wait only made Pinoy arnisadors hungrier, fiercer as they swept all four gold medals disputed in the men’s event in the 30th SEA Games at the Angeles University Foundation gym here yesterday.

Dexter Bolambao, 23, delivered the first victory for the Filipino escrimadors as he bested Myanmar’s Soc Paing, 3-0, to pocket the bantamweight gold and spark the gold rush in the country’s national sport.

“The feeling is great, winning the gold before my countrymen,” said Bolambao, a Leyte native who is the 2016 and 2018 world champion, in Filipino.

Nino Mark Toledo then overwhelmed Vietnamese Vu Van Kien to claim the +55kg less 60kg gold while Villardo Cunamay outlasted a younger Yong Mely of Cambodia, 3-1, to rule the +60kg less 65kg division.

Cunamay, a 46-year-old Army technical sergeant, said he was just happy to win over younger foes.

“My opponents were bigger, younger and tougher too. I’m thankful I withstood all that,” said Cunamay, who was cheered on by his fourth and youngest child, six-year-old Johnvic from the sidelines.

Mike Banares, the national team captain completed the men’s sweep of the first of this three-day competition by defeating Vietnamese Phu Thai Viet in the +65kg and above.

The team was on target in meeting Philippine Eskrima Arnis Federation president Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri’s initial projection of 11 to 12 golds.

“We’re happy with the results, we hope to win more golds,” said Zubiri.

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