Amid 'Tisoy', Philippines solidifies SEA Games lead with more golds
Wushu star Agatha Wong became the first Pinoy athlete to win two individual gold medals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

Amid 'Tisoy', Philippines solidifies SEA Games lead with more golds

Dante Navarro (Philstar.com) - December 3, 2019 - 9:08pm

MANILA, Philippines – Not even a storm as strong as Typhoon “Tisoy” could slow down a side as determined as Team Philippines.

As “Tisoy” lashed the Bicol region and dumped heavy rains all over, the Filipinos kept pounding the opposition with their top-class performance in wushu, arnis and gymnastics, coming away with nine more gold medals to firm up their hold of the overall lead in Day 3 of the rain-hit in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

Organizers had to postpone games in at least 15 events, particularly the outdoor and water sports, due to bad weather conditions but proceeded with the rest — mainly the indoor ones — and the Pinoys stayed focused and hot inside the confines of their respective turfs.

All right for Wong

Wushu star Agatha Wong became the first Pinoy athlete to win two individual gold medals by adding the Taolu Taijijian crown to her Taijiquan feat in morning competitions at the World Trade Center before the Sanda squad of 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist Divine Wally (48kg-women’s), Jessie Aligaga (48kg-men’s), Francisco Solis (56kg), Arnel Mandal (52kg) and Clemente Tabugaga Jr. (65kg) won all but one of the six gold medals disputed in afternoon play.

That six-gold wushu haul, along with arnis’ two more golds that completed a whopping 14-gold exploit for the country’s national sport, and another one from world gymnast champion Carlos Yulo (floor exercise) kept the Philippines’ gold medal drive going that in one stretch in a gloomy morning had appeared headed to a screeching halt after a 22-16 gold barrage in the first two days of the12-day meet among 11 neighboring countries in the region.

“I'm really happy. I played calm today and was more laid-back,” said Wong, 21. “There was a lot of pressure in the first day, but I felt relaxed this time knowing I already bagged something for the country,” said Wong.

Wushu’s seven-gold take also more than made up for its one-gold, one silver effort, courtesy of Wong, in the 2017 SEAG.

Yulo settles for silvers

The Philippines’ third day campaign, however, ended in a rather sour note as the fancied Yulo stumbled and fell later in the night to the disappointment of the big crowd at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum — including weightlifting champion and Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz — and yielded the pommel horse and still rings gold medals he was expected to win. Additionally, the women’s volley team succumbed to Vietnam’s power and class, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 8-15, over at the Philsports Arena.

Despite the late setbacks, the host still padded its overnight 13-gold lead to a huge 24 with a 47-30-17 (gold-silver-bronze) output with Vietnam barely keeping in step with seven golds in the day for a 23-27-25, now followed by defending overall champion Malaysia, which struck hard in gymnastics, bowling, squash and ice skating, to move to third with 17-5-14, dislodging Indonesia (12-20-18) as of 8:30 p.m.

Thailand, winner in 2013 and 2015 editions, stayed at fifth with 8-13-20, followed by Singapore (8-10-15), Myanmar (1-6-20), Brunei (1-4-5), Cambodia (1-3-17) and Laos (0-0-5) with Timor Leste still in chase for at least the elusive bronze.

Yulo earlier kept the huge crowd entertained with his world class act, scoring 14.700 in the final of the very event that made him the world champion in Germany last October. He beat Thai Surintornta Tikumporn (13.833) while Malaysia’s Mat Asri Zul Bahrin took the bronze with 13.767.

It was a big letdown, however, for Reyland Capellan, who wound up fifth with 13.433 after ruling the event in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.

But Yulo lost the pommel horse and still rings golds to Malaysian and Vietnamese rivals as he settled for a two-gold, two-silver effort heading to his last three events tomorrow – vault, parallel and horizontal bars.

Tan Fu Jie of Malaysia scored a total of 13.967 points, including 5.700 in difficulty and 8.267 in execution to snare the pommel horse gold as Yulo finished with 13.233 (4.900-8.333) while Vietnam’s Ding Phuong Thank took the bronze with 12.867.

Vietnam’s Dang Nam, on the other hand, assembled 13.867 points (5.700 and 8.167) to nip Yulo, who had 13.733 (5.500-8.233) and edged Indonesia’s Dwi Arifin bagging the bronze, also with 13.733 (6.000-7.733), in the tiebreak for silver.

Volleybelles fall to Vietnamese

Over in Pasig, the national spikers looked headed for an explosive start after seizing control with a big four-point win in the opening frame, only to yield the next two. But they re-grouped and fought back with gutsy stand in the stretch to force a decider but failed to neutralize the Vietnamese’s hot start and cracked under the weight of their rivals’ solid blocking and their own miscues in the clutch and dropped the match watched by a roaring crowd.

The loss dampened the hosts’ medal chances in the four-team field. They next face powerhouse Thailand on Thursday before taking on the Indonesians on Saturday.

Earlier in Pampanga, the country’s arnisadors closed out their emphatic campaign with victories in men’s and women’s anyo non-traditional Open weapon events through Crisamuel Delfin and Mary Aldeguer as the sport produced a mind-boggling 14-gold feat, making arnis the top bet for the best-performing NSA (national sports association).

“I promised the country 12 golds and I’m happy we delivered more,” said PEKAF president and Sen. Miguel Zubiri, whose wards, unlike the rest of the Philippine contingent, didn’t need foreign exposure to hone up since according to them, the best trainors are here. The sport produced five golds in Day One then led the hosts’ second day charge with seven.

Elsewhere, the Pinoy athletes stamped their class in billiards at the Manila Hotel Tent to make up for their setbacks in fencing, beach volley, bowling and chess, among others.

The Pinoy athletes’ sustained charge also further reinforced the Philippine sports officials’ earlier forecast of not only a successful hosting but also a triumphant campaign the way the country did when it last hosted the biennial meet in 2005.

“We are riding on this positive wave and continue to hope that we can sustain this good performance,” said chef de mission and Philippine Sports Commission chair Butch Ramirez.

“Our Deputy Chefs de Mission have been doing the rounds in their respective clusters to ensure that all requirements of our team are met and that they are given moral, logistical, medical and technical support,” he added while enjoining the other Pinoys to support and pray for the national athletes set to vie in many more events.

Earlier, stormy weather forced Games’ organizers to postpone 15 events in various cluster venues, including beach volley, canoe/kayak, muay, pencak silat, sailing/windsurfing, modern pentathlon, surfing and sepak takraw, all in Subic area; underwater hockey, skateboard and polo in Southern Luzon; ESports in San Juan, and petangue in Clark.

Weather-permitting, all re-scheduled events will be held Wednesday.

But action in most sports proceeded as scheduled Tuesday, including cycling, indoor hockey, badminton, fencing, football, gymnastics, tennis, weightlifting, wushu, indoor volleyball, rugby 7s, archery, arnis, athletics, wrestling, kurash, baseball, softball and lawn bowls.

Meanwhile, PHISGOC said that it has taken care of the Malaysian and Indonesian athletes and delegations’ needs after their flight back home were held back following the NAIA 12-hour closure due to the onslaught of “Tisoy”.

“We took care of their accommodations, food and everything,” said PHISGOC CEO Tats Suzara, adding that a number of delegations, including those from Thailand and Indonesia, were also stranded from their respective ports due to the NAIA closure.

He, however, added that their schedules, including training, won’t be disrupted.

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