Wong Dazzles to fifth gold

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Wong Dazzles to fifth gold
Agatha Wong
Jun Mendoza

Poomsae bets, tracksters make it four triumphs

PHNOM PENH – In nearby halls, martial artists executed their routines with grace and agility to power a relatively productive four-gold haul for Team Philippines in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games yesterday.

The ever-reliable poomsae team in taekwondo dazzled its way to the summit in the opening events at the Chroy Changvar Convention Center – Jocel Lyn Ninobla, Aidaine Krishia Laxa and Maria Nicole Labayne in women’s recognized team and Patrick King Perez in men’s recognized individual.

The poomsae aces took the cue from comely wushu star Agatha Wong, who in the morning session in another hall collared her fifth career SEAG gold in ruling the women’s taijijquan+taijijian event.

Track and field stalwarts made it four at night with Frederick Ramirez, Joyme Sequita, Michael del Prado and Umajesty Williams reigning supreme in the men’s 4x400 meter relay via a close victory over Thailand at the Morodok National Stadium.

The quartet of triumphs ended back-to-back days of worrisome one-gold outputs and slightly improved the 840-strong delegation’s overall collection to 31 golds, 54 silvers and 69 bronzes as of 7:45 p.m. (Manila time).

US-based fencer Sam Catantan collared a silver in women’s individual foil despite sustaining a knee injury in the semifinals as 17-year-old javelin throw Ghenna Malapit and wushu’s men’s sanda 60kg fighter Gideon Padua complemented the day’s triumphs with runner-up finishes in their respective fronts.

The day’s tally, however, barely affected the standing of the team backed by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as it remained stuck in sixth behind Vietnam (66-64-76), Thailand (58-41-61), host Cambodia (56-45-56), Indonesia (46-39-60) and Singapore (38-31-34).

The Pinoy relay runners clocked a winning 3:07.22, beating Thais Apisit Chamsri, Jiratep Bundee, Rumchok Semathong and Thawathchai Khongjeam (3:03.23) by a hairline, for athletics’ fourth goal here after earlier conquests by pole vaulter EJ Obiena, long jumper Janry Ubas and 400m hurdler Eric Cray.

Future doctor Wong delivered the country’s 28th win in the “Kingdom of Wonder” with a sparkling performance in the culminating taijijian (sword) form.

Running only third after the opening taijiquan style Wednesday, the 24-year-old Wong saved the best for last and thanks to her flawless performance with the sword, earned 9.683 points en route to a winning total of 19.623.

She defeated Malaysia’s Sydney Shin Xuan (19.1960), the leader after the taijiquan routines, to add to her growing collection that started in the 2017 SEAG.

“Hindi ko ine-expect na mananalo ako kasi I’m also a med student. I’m in my first year of medicine and I didn’t graduate with a science degree so medyo mahirap to balance the training,” said Wong.

The wushu star, a Bachelor of Arts in Diplomatic Affairs degree holder, is thankful to her med school, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay, for allowing her to serve national team duties.

Hours later, the Pinoy poomsae specialists wowed the good-sized crowd that included Senate President Migs Zubiri, Senators Bong Go and Francis Tolentino and Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino with their golden forms.

Ninobla, Laxa and Labayne earned 108.5 from the judges to beat Malaysia’s Lim Jia Wei and Nur and Nurul Karim for the opening win in poomsae. Perez joined the gold rush with his winning performance of 104.1 points. He hit paydirt in the SEAG on his third try.

At the resumption of hostilities today, Asian Youth gold medalist Angeline Colonia launches the country’s campaign in the weightlifting competition.

Colonia, 15, will compete in the women’s 45kg event against Myanmar’s Zin May Oo, Laos’ Bouakham Phongsakone, Thailand’s Khemika Kamnoedsri, and Cambodia’s Seng Borin. Angeline, the younger sister of 2016 Rio Olympian Nestor Colonia, is one of the Philippines’ best hopes in weightlifting after Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo skipped the biennial meet.

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