Twin hits Friday the 13th

Abac Cordero - The Philippine Star
Twin hits Friday the 13th
Philippine flag-bearer EJ Obiena, POC president Bambol Tolentino and Chef de Mission Ramon Fernandez lead the Phl delegation in the parade during the opening ceremonies of the 31st Southeast Asian Games at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam Thursday.
Jun Mendoza

HANOI – Caloy Yulo of gymnastics and Jack Escarpe of kurash delivered gold medals for Team Philippines yesterday and brought a lot of hope to the country’s campaign in the 31st Southeast Asian Games here.

The pocket-sized two-time world champion ruled the men’s individual all-around, an event he can’t afford to lose, and carried five other teammates to the silver in the men’s team all-around.

Yulo, world champion in 2019 and 2021 and winner of two gold and five silver medals in the Manila SEA Games three years ago, had a Philippine flag covering almost his entire body during the awarding ceremony.

The pride of Manila held his head high, his eyes sparkling with joy as the Philippine national anthem was played at the Quan Ngura Sports Palace. It was yet another shining moment for Southeast Asia’s only world champion.

During the awarding ceremony in the team event, Yulo’s teammates jumped up and down the podium, a couple of them in tears. It was the first time Team Philippines had an entry in the team event in gymnastics.

“Hindi ko na-expect yung silver (team event). Proud ako,” said Yulo after a smashing performance that pushed him into the finals of the pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, horizontal bar and his favorite floor exercise.

Yulo sounded happy but not necessarily surprised he won the gold in the all-around, the same event he ruled in the 2019 SEA Games along with the floor exercise.

“Masaya po at proud ako,” he said.

The other members of the team are Jann Gwynn Timbang, Juancho Miguel Besana, Justin Ace de Leon, John Matthew Vergara and John Ivan Cruz. They bagged the silver with a score of 301,600 behind gold winner and host Vietnam (331,250) and ahead of bronze medalist Singapore (297,650).

Yulo won the individual gold with 85,150, followed byLe Thanh Tung of Vietnam (84,450) and another local bet, Dinh Phuong Thanh (82,050).

“It’s a very good start for Team Philippines. We expect much more because Caloy is in the finals of all the other events,” said Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion-Norton.

Over at the Hoai Durc District Sport Hall, Escarpe won the gold medal in the men’s 73 kg of kurash, a martial art, after beating Thailand’s Apicha Boonrangsee. It was the first gold of the day for Team Philippines.

And counting Yulo’s own gold, Team Philippines improved its medal haul to three gold, nine silver and 11 bronze medals, good for fourth place so far in this 11-nation meet that offers 526 golds in 40 sports.

Leading the race is host Vietnam with 20-11-15 followed by Malaysia with 11-5-8 and Indonesia with 5-8-1. Thailand slipped to fifth place with 3-5-11 followed by Singapore with 2-6-7.

Also winning silver medals for Team Philippines on this Friday the 13th was Jones Inso in men’s taijiquan in wushu, Gretel de Paz in full-contact women’s -56kg in kickboxing and Renalyn Daquel in full-contact women’s -48 kg, also in kickboxing. Four other Pinoy kickboxers are in contention for the gold as of presstime.

Delivering bronze medals were Athens Tolentino, Van Maxilom, CJ Jasmin and Emmanuel Obana in men’s lightweight quadruple sculls in rowing; Edgar Ilas, Roque Abala Jr., Zuriel Sumintac and Joachim de Jesus in men’s lightweight coxless four in rowing;  Feiza Lenton, Alyssa Go, Joanie Delgaco and Kharl Juliann Sha in women’s lightweight quadruple skulls in rowing; and Bianca Mae Estrella in the women’s 70kg of kurash.

The other gold for Team Philippines came from Mary Francine Padios in pencak silat.

Elsewhere, Gilas Pilipinas took a roller-coaster ride in men’s and women’s 3x3.

After a relatively easy 19-7 victory over Cambodia and a come-from-behind 21-16 win over Thailand, the men’s team of Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, Marvin Hayes, Jorey Napoles and Raymar Caduyac fell to Indonesia, 15-13.

The women’s squad, on the other hand, fell to the host team and a wild hometown crowd, 21-18. The team of Janine Pontejos, Afril Bernardino, Clare Castro and Angelica Surada also fell to Thailand, 21-14.

Action resumes today with the men’s team facing Singapore at 9:40 a.m., Malaysia at 12:20 p.m. and Vietnam at 2 p.m. The women’s squad meets Singapore at 9:40 a.m., Indonesia at 11:20 a.m. and Malaysia at 1 p.m. (2 p.m. Philippine time).

Both teams, the reigning champions in 3x3, need to finish in the top four of their divisions to advance to the knockout semis. The finals will be held later in the day.

In women’s volleyball, the Philippines pulled off a 25-14, 25-20, 25-15 victory over Malaysia to get its ambitious golden campaign going on a high note.

Meanwhile, the centerpiece event of athletics fires off at the My Dinh National Stadium with Team Philippines flag-bearer and world No. 5 pole-vaulter EJ Obiena and sprinters Kayla and Kyla Richardson seeking glory on the track.

In javelin, Melvin Calano will also try to keep the gold medal like Obiena.

Kyla is tipped to win the gold after sweeping the 100m, the 200m, and the relays of the 2022 PacWest Track & Field Championships recently at the Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California.


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