GYMNAST Carlos Yulo’s bid for a special niche in Team Philippines’ 30th Southeast Asian Games campaign was denied yesterday as he settled for silver medals in his final three events.
But there were others all too willing to pick up where he tapered off, enabling the Philippines to stay on top of the overall leaderboard and fend off the threat posed by their closest pursuers in the overall race.
Foremost among those who shone brightest for Team PH is a record-breaking swimmer who ended the country’s decade-long drought in the pool and a female navy officer nobody in the criminal underworld would want to mess with due to her uncanny shooting abilities.
Also helping Team PH to a nine-gold harvest for the day were some racers who overcame various obstacles in their way, a lady lifter who atoned for a teammate’s loss just the day before and a pair displaying more than ample knowledge of traditional rituals of muay.
With 56 gold medals so far, the Filipinos stayed well ahead of their closest pursuers who all tried but still could only gain little inroads from the imposing lead the host team established right on the first day of formal competitions.
Singapore actually surpassed the host team’s gold haul for the day with 10, anchored on four from swimming and two each from ice skating and underwater hockey.
But their combined efforts and those of their other teammates could just lift Singapore to an 18-gold total, although those were enough to boost the Lion City bets a rung higher to fifth.
Vietnam remained as Team PH closest pursuer with 27 mints after twinkills in swimming and gymnastics, with Malaysia coming next with 21 following two victories in gymnastics and one in lawn bowls.
Indonesia dropped to sixth on a 17-gold total despite five wins for the day–two in bowling and one each in gymnastics, weightlifting and pencak silat.
Already the men’s all-around and floor exercise winner, Yulo was bidding to become the top individual gold producer for the country but could only land three silvers in the vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar at the end of his campaign.
There was indeed disappointment, but not much for the 19-year-old bundle of power and skills as he wound up with two gold and five silver medals in his very first Games stint.
Besides, Yulo’s teammates from other fronts were there to more than give him consolation but brighten the hosts’ spirits even more.
One was James Deiparine, who topped the 100m breaststroke to give the country its first gold in swimming sport since 2009. With his gold-winning 1:01.46 performance, the 26-year-old also broke the 10-year-old meet record set in the Laos edition.
There was also Marly Martir, a Philippine Navy officer, who ruled the women’s WA 1500 Precision Pistol Course, an event spawned by practical shooting among police officers. The 43-year-old hit the X ring 60 times for a score of 1450, five more than the total of silver winner Pratiwi Kartikasari of Indonesia.
She later scored 582 that went with Franchette Quiroz’s 575 and Elvie Baldivino’s 571 to also win gold in the team category with a combined score of 4320, 10 more than the Indonesian squad.
Putting the Filipinos on the right track for the day was its Obstacle Course Racers led by the team of Kyle Antolin, Kaizen dela Serna, Monolito Divina and Deanna Moncada, which conquered the 12-obstacle mixed assist race in 3:48.35..
Diana Buhler, Jeffrey Reginio, Klymille Kim Rodriguez and Nathaniel Sanchez topped the team relay in 1:59.56, followed by Rochelle Suarez (46.70) and Milky Mae Tejares (47.88), completing a 1-2 finish in the 100m x 10 obstacles and Kevin Jeffrey Pascua winning the men’s side of the event.
Later in the afternoon, partners Jaerome Calica and Joemar Gallaza showed both poise and aggression in their combined routine demonstrating the traditional pre-fight ritual en route to a 9.95 from the judges in the wai kru mai muay event.
Lifter Kristel Macrohon also did her part, topping the 71kg division for weightlifting’s second gold following Hidilyn Diaz’s victory in the 55kg category last Monday.
The 23-year-old, like Diaz hailing from Zamboanga, cleared 93kgs in the snatch and 123kgs in the clean and jerk to beat Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi, who could not hoist 125 on her third and final attempt in the clean and jerk to settle for a 214 total and the silver.