With an apology to our guests, we say it’s all over but for the fight for the second overall spot in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
That’s the naked truth staring in the eyes of the rest of the field as Team Philippines continued its octopus-like performance, capturing gold medals in wild abandon everywhere and threatening to post one of the most lopsided overall victories in the long, rich history of the sporting showpiece.
Performing spiritedly before their countrymen whose admiration is their tonic, the host athletes have won 10 more events as of 6 p.m. yesterday as they raised their total gold production to 81 and moved in a strong position of breaking the 100-gold barrier with still three days of action remaining in the 12-day meet among 11 nations.
“Yes, you can write that now. We’re not going to lose (overall title),” said a high-ranking official who requested anonymity because he’s not authorized to speak on the matter. “What is not clear is the fight for second”.
It was easy to see why Indonesia is running second again after briefly yielding it, but overtaking the host from the top of the medal standings is now mission impossible as it has only 37 golds, two more than Vietnam which is ranked third with 35.
“Unless Indonesia wins the rest (of golds still to be disputed ) and we fail to win one in the last four days, we should start celebrating,” the same official told People’s Journal.
Jakarta Asian Games champion Margielyn Didal went hot again as expected in cool Tagaytay, winning her pet event of women’s street skateboarding in a big followup to her S.K.A.T.E triumph the other day to stand at the forefront of the country’s blitzkrieg on a beautiful Saturday.
Fans watched in awe as Didal performed her routine in magnificent fashion, and later erupted in delight after the Cebuana native emerged with the highest score among six entries with a high 12.7 points at the Tagaytay Extreme Sports Complex.
Like in the S.K.A.T.E. event, Didal’s teammate Christiana Means made it a 1-2 finish for the home team with 7.3 points, kicking off a lot of hugging, a lot of smiling and a lot of shouting for the two local skateboarders as they celebrated another gold-silver showing.
Well-known sports like fencing, rhythmic gymnastics and billiards and the less popular ones like poomsae, karatedo, and rowing contributed to the day’s gold medal haul, which went down on record as the biggest for Team PH since Day One.
To Atimonan, Quezon native Cris Nievarez went the honor of providing the first gold for the day, as he won the men’s lightweight single sculls after topping the time trials with a clockings of 7:34.27 at the ACEA Bay in Subic.
“I didn’t expect to win the gold but the Lord guided me to victory. I am also motivated by my desire to help my family, “ said Nieverez, 19, basking in his first ever win in a tournament of this size.
On the same place, Joane Delgaco and Melcab Caballero sent Filipino pride soaring after by ruling the women’s lightweight double sculls (7:24.21) as the rowing team got off to a sizzling start.
A hundred of miles away, the poomsae team was making its own winning run at the Ninoy Aquino stadium in Pasay City.
Brothers Dustin and Rico Mella and Rodolfo Reyes shone in poomsae competitions, capturing a historic fourth straight gold as they produced a scintillating performance in the men’s team individual recognized poomsae event with 8.483 to beat Vietnam (8.416) and Malaysia (7.783).
“Sobrang thankful. After all, worth it ang lahat ng pagod,” said the 24-year-old Reyes.”This time, sobrang sarap na mag-perform sa harap ng mga Filipino.”
Earlier in the day, Reyes and Nocel Ninobla topped the men’s and women’s individual recognized poomsae events, kicking off what would become a three-gold harvest in a sport traditionally ruled by the Malaysians.
On this beautiful afternoon, it was the Filipinos’ turn to shine.
Reyes, a former University of Santo Tomas standout, submitted 8.349-point to easily beat his top rival from Thailand (8.199) , while Ninobla emerged triumphant by the slimmest of margins with 8.433 as against her Thai rival’s 8.432,
There was also a cause of celebration over at the World Trade Center in Pasay.
Hanniel Abella capped off the host team’s dream run, besting Singapore, 45-38, to win the women’s team epee as the local fencers wound up with a pair of golds.
There was a sure gold even before billiards action resumed as Chezka Centeno and Rubilen Amit figured in an all-Pinay finale in the women’s 10-ball singles at the The Tent of the Manila Hotel.
At the end of the match before a huge crowd, it was Centeno who wore the biggest smile as she defeated former world champ Amit, 7-3, and retained the title she won two years ago in Kuala Lumpur. Daniela dela Pisa gave PH its third win in gymnastics as she topped the hoop event in rhythmic gymnastics. Filipino-Japanese Junna Tsukii lived up to her lofty billing and rewarded the country its first gold in karatedo, rounding out the Filipino winners for the day.
Dela Pisa scored 17.750 in the routine, to go with her two bronzes in the ball and clubs events, as she joined world champion Carlos Yulo in the gold medal column in gymnastics, the sport’s largest haul thus far in the Games.
After a bronze medal finish in the Jakarta Asiad, Tsukii promised to return and win in the SEA Games here.
And she did. She beat Thi Huong Dinh of Vietnam, 1-0, to rule the women’s 50-kg kumite event and finally put The bitter Asiad loss behind.
“I lost in the Asian Games, I got bronze. But even if it’s a bronze, (I feel like) I lost,” she told sportswriters.
With Theodore Jurado