Tight race in homestretch

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — There are 27 sports left to play in the last three days of the Hanoi SEA Games with the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore battling to grab gold medals in the race to finish in the top three overall standings. Of the 27 sports, the Philippines claimed gold medals in 13 in the 2019 edition so hopes are high to wind up at No. 3 although the chase is expected to go down to the wire. The competition ends Sunday.

The remaining sports where the Philippines struck paydirt in 2019 are basketball, billiards, boxing, canoe/kayak, road cycling, esports, judo, karate, muay, shooting, tennis and weightlifting. The other sports with gold medals still up for grabs are chess, xiangqi, aerobic gymnastics, table tennis, beach volleyball, vovinam, indoor volleyball, indoor handball, men and women futsal, men and women football, finswimming and badminton.

Dousing the Philippines’ chances of repeating as No. 1 was Hanoi striking out 15 sports where the defending champion took 47 gold medals in 2019. The biggest gold contributors for the Philippines in the previous SEA Games were arnis with 14 and obstacle course and skateboarding with six each. Another factor was the disqualification of the Philippine bodybuilding team which would’ve contended for 10 gold medals. The bodybuilders were scratched for failing to comply with technical rules related to doping tests. A potential gold was lost when organizers cancelled the 75kg competition in women’s boxing where Hergie Bacyadan was the favorite.

Artistic gymnastics delivered seven golds for the Philippines, four more than in 2019 with Caloy Yulo collecting five. Dancesport and athletics contributed five golds each but were a drop from what they earned in the last SEA Games. Athletics took 11 golds and dancesport 10 in 2019. Four of athletics’ five gold medalists were repeaters – pole vaulter EJ Obiena, 110m hurdler Clinton Bautista, 400m hurdler Eric Cray and shot putter William Morrison.

POC president Cong. Bambol Tolentino said he’s encouraged by the athletes’ performance. “Well and good so far inspite of lack and disrupted training,” he said. “Surprises from athletes, daming bago nakatago at lumabas. EJ is mission accomplished but in 3x3, seryoso dapat tayo, best sana pinadala at don’t belittle other countries.”


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