Gold medals keep on coming, and Team Philippines keeps on pulling away in the overall race.
The Philippine contingent struck in skateboarding, fencing, judo and cycling in a Thursday to remember to sustain its amazing gold medal winning spree and keep the opposition struggling in its wake halfway through the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
On a beautiful Thursday in beautiful Tagaytay, Asian Games titlist Margielyn Didal and Daniel Ledermann swept the golds in the S.K.A.T.E event in skateboarding as the sport made its debut in the biennial sporting showpiece.
Didal and Ledermann performed routines rich in difficult, spell-binding tricks, leaving the adoring home fans cheering, jumping and shouting at the end of their respective performances.
Over at the World Trade Center, a fencer named Jylyn Nicanor finally rewarded Team PH a gold in fencing after beating Indonesian Diah Permatasari by the slimmest of margin, 15-14, in the finals of the women’s individual saber.
So close and hard-fought was the match that a video review decided the final two points, with the referee ruling in favor of the Filipina bet.
Cold Tagaytay proved to be a lucky place for Team PH as Jermyn Prado gave the cycling squad its third gold after ruling the women’s individual time trial with a time of 44 minutes and 7.42 seconds for the lung-busting 23.1 kilometer early morning race.
“I gave my all. It was too hard, but our sacrifices paid off. I’m happy,” said Prado, whose win came two days after Lea Denise Belgara and John Farr triumphed in the mountain bike events.
The combat sport of judo did its share for the day, thanks to Filipino-Japanese Shugen Nakano, who mounted a big fightback against his Indonesian rival to post a thrilling win in the under-66 kilogram final at the Laus Group Events Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.
As the crowd held its breath, Nakano, down by a point, pulled off a clean throw in the dying seconds of their gold medal duel, which was enough to salvage the victory to give the host country its first golf in the sport.
As of 7 last night, Team PH has moved on the cusp of breaking the 60-gold barrier with a whopping total of 59 gold, 44 silver and 24 bronze medals, as it virtually won the overall title with just six days into the 12-day, 11 nations Games.
For the fifth straight day, Vietnam remained in second spot with a 28-33-36 tally and Indonesia in third with a 23-30-31 haul, but both nations are no longer given chances of overtaking the Filipinos in top spot.
Once it becomes official, Team Philippines will take its second overall title after similarly ruling the event in 2005 when the country hosted the Games for the third time. Didal, still looking for the needed points to make it to the Tokyo Olympics next year, beat Christiana Means in an all-Filipina final of the event H.O.R.S.E.l.She’s also picked to win the street event, which she won in Jakarta Asiad last year.
An hour later, it was the turn of Ledermann to wow the crowd, take the gold and make it a double celebration by beating 12-year-old Indonesian Basral Hutomo in a one-sided finale.
Nicanor advanced to the gold medal match after a 15-9 win over Thailand’s Tonpan Pokeaw.
“Hindi naman ako na-pressure na maglaro. Ang sabi ng coach ko eh mag-enjoy lang ako na maglaro,” said Nicanor, who will also compete in the team saber event on Sunday. “Kinabahan po ako, nakita ko yung malaking flag ng Pilipinas.”
Filipino Noelito Jose settled for bronze after a 9-15 loss to Vietnam’s Tien Nhat Nguyen in the men’s individual epee semifinals.
(With reports from Theodore Jurado)