GIRL power reared its lovely head yesterday, enabling Team Philippines to come up with a comparatively modest – but still ample – haul in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Cyclist Jermyn Prado, judoja Kiyomi Watanabe, fencer Jylyn Nicanor and skateboarder Margielyn Didal hogged the limelight for the most part Thursday before their male counterparts took the cue and delivered in other fronts.
Fil-German skateboarder Daniel Ledermann, judoka Pablo Shugen Nakano and crossover martial artists Mark Striegl and Chino Sy struck in sambo to bring the country’s gold harvest for the day to seven.
It was the host team’s lowest win-output for a day yet but proved enough to jack their overall total to 63 golds and keep them in their lofty perch in the overall standings.
Since Day 1 of the competitions, the rest of the 11-country field continued to be mere pursuers with the closest ones engaged in fierce jockeying for positions behind the Philippines.
Vietnam managed just four for the day, two from swimming, but remained at second-running spot with 31. The 2003 overall champion was being heavily threatened by 10-time topnotcher Indonesia, which churned out the day’s best of 10 golds to jack its total to 27.
Singapore moved within a gold away from Indonesia after an eight-gold surge anchored on four from the pool.
After winning only two golds for the day, Malaysia dropped from third to fifth with 23, seven ahead of Thailand despite the latter’s five wins for the day.
Prado was the first to give inspiration to Team PH by winning the individual time trial race.
The Pagbilao, Quezon native took the gold after completing the 23.1-kilometer course in 44 minutes, 44.742 seconds, close to four seconds better than silver winner Yuo Liwei of Singapore.
Prado’s was the third gold from cycling following the mountain bike victories by John Derick Farr and Lea Denise Belgira last Monday.
Later in the afternoon, Didal and Daniel Ledermann secured the first two of the total eight gold medals in skateboarding by topping the Game of S.K.A.T.E.
Didal beat compatriot Christiana Means through an ollie body/varial trick which the latter could not duplicate, highlighting their golden matchup that was assured when they both breezed through the early rounds Wednesday.
Ledermann had a harder time but still edged Indonesia’s Basral Hutomo in a heated showdown after recovering from the 12-year-old wunderkind’s difficult tricks early on.
Nicanor snapped the country’s dry spell in fencing by coming from behind and topping the individual sabre. The 27-year-old was quicker on the crucial hit as she completed her fightback from 5-8 down in the final round to outlast Indonesian foe Diah Permatasari 15-14 in the final. The match was so close the final two points were reviewed, with the referee ruling in favor of the Filipina.
And there was Watanabe, who beat Nik Norbaizura Nik Azman of Malaysia by ippon in the final for her fourth straight victory in the minus 63kg class, underscoring her dominance in the region and boosting her bid to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Currently ranked No. 23 in the world in her weight class, the 19-year-old Watanabe aims to stay inside the top 26 to clinch a berth in the Tokyo Games.
Welcome news also came from the new event of sambo, a Russian invention combining the best of the martial arts.
Striegl, a mixed martial arts champion, bulldozed his way to the 74kg class title of combat sambo while Sy, a former UAAP juniors Most Valuable Player in judo, claimed the other gold after topping the minus 82 kg class.
Shugen would not be outdone, pulling off a last-ditch ippon over Indonesia’s Budi Prasetiyo in the 66kg final to secure the gold. Before the match-winner, the Indonesian went up by half-a-point afer dragging Shugen to the mat.