UNFAZED by the threat posed by a weather disturbance that could swamp major venues and the grit displayed by some of their opponents, Filipino athletes added 17 more gold medals to their tally Monday and threatened to pull away in just two days of action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The indigenous sport of arnis proved to be the lynchpin in Team Philippines’ sustained golden charge by delivering seven gold medals while basketball, mountain bike, duathlon, pencak silat, weightlifting and the mixed triathlon squad chipped in for that much-needed boost.
As of 8 o’clock on Monday night, the Filipinos had jacked their Games-leading total to 38 gold medals on top of 20 silver and 13 bronze medals they could use as buffer should Typhoon Tisoy cause destruction and the surges being made by 2003 top nation Vietnam and Malaysia, which copped its second overall crown two years ago on home grounds.
Rains brought about by Tisoy are expected to affect some playing venues in Luzon, including Metro Manila, today and tomorrow, leaving a big question mark on how organizers could implement their oft-stated contingency plans should any worst-case scenario materializes.
About 15 outdoor events in separate venues scattered all over Metro Manila, Laguna, Pampanga and Tarlac are expected to be affected by Tisoy.
As organizers await Tisoy, some form of excitement is being posed from elsewhere.
Vietnam scored victories in seven kurash events and added three from arnis to improve its total to 15 mints while Malaysia jacked its total to 10 golds after copping three mints in lawn bowls and one each from netball and gymnastics.
Traditional sporting giants Indonesia and Thailand also stirred to life with a six-gold total each while Singapore suffered a gold drought for the day after opening with three on Sunday and remained at sixth overall.
A total of 45 gold medals will be disputed on Day 3 of action on Tuesday, weather permitting.
Elmer Manlapaz, Jesfer Huquire, Abegail Abad, Carloyd Tejada, Sheena del Monte, Ashley Ross Moville and Jedah Mae Soriano delivered the gold medals for the arnis warriors at the Angeles University Foundation.
In all, the country’s arnis warriors have accounted for 12 of Team Philippines’ victories, edging out dancesports (10) as the top gold medal producer.
The country’s 3×3 basketball teams did not disappoint in the sport closest to the Filipinos’ heart, with the men’s team of Jason Perkins, Chris Newsome, Mo Tautuaa and CJ Perez completing a clean sweep of the tournament capped by a 21-9 whipping of Indonesia in the finals.
Afril Bernadino, Jack Danielle Animam, Janine Pontejos, and Clare Castro of the women’s squad got back at lone eliminations tormentor Thailand with a 17-13 victory in the gold medal match.
In cycling, John Farr and Denise Belgira ruled their respective mountain bike events, with Monica Torres following suit with a victory in duathlon.
Pencak silat continued its run of surprises for Team PH with a gold courtesy of Edmar Tacuel in seni tunggal singles.
Triathlon contributed its third gold in the medal haul as Kim Mangrobang and Claire Adorna teamed up with Fernando Casares and John Chicano to rule the mixed team relay. It was the second gold for both Mangrobang and Chicano, who ruled the men and women’s triathlon on Sunday.
Rodel Labayo and Angelo Morales also teamed up for the pairs gold in lawn bowls.
Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz became the latest among the list of Filipino gold hopefuls who lived up to expectations by finally bagging her first SEA Games gold.
The reigning Asian Games champion lifted 91 kilograms in the snatch and 120 in the clean and jerk for a total of 211, surpassing her performance in the Indonesia Asiad last year where she had a 207 total.
There were other welcome news elsewhere, particularly in wushu.
Jessie Aligaga, competing in the 48kg division, Arnel Mandal (52 kgs), Francisco Solis (56kgs), Gideon Fred Padua (60kgs), Clemente Tabugara Jr. (65kgs) and lone female survivor Divine Wally (48kgs) all won their semifinals matches and advanced to today’s all-finals where taijiquan winner Agatha Wong also sees action in the taijijian event.
“All out na ito para sa bayan,” said Solis, who fashioned the most impressive victory in the tournament so far, needing just 11 seconds to dispose of Malaysian Kai Wen Teng with a side throw.
DUTERTE SPEAKS UP
President Duterte said the preparations for the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games were “not good” following several “mishaps” that could have easily been avoided if the billions of pesos worth of budget for the event had been properly used for preparations and in anticipation of any problem that may arise.
During a taped interview by Unang Hirit that was aired yesterday, Duterte said he was “not attributing to anybody” the shortcomings in the logistics and other problems that have arise during the SEA Games but felt they could have been avoided or addressed immediately if the preparations, along with the spending of the budget, was done correctly.
“It’s a huge fund (P6 billion) and there ought not to have problems,” Duterte said, citing problems like the delayed buses, wrong accommodations and late check-ins, the type of food that were served to the athletes and the unfinished venues, among others.
He added there was ample time to do the preparations and ensure that every scenario is covered in case of problems.
“If you would ponder on it, it’s actually negligence or unforeseen events that you failed to prepare,” he said.
The President said investigation about the controversies hounding the SEA Games’ hosting should be held after the event ends.
Malacañang had said there would be no sacred cows in the probe that would include everybody, including Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the head of the Philippines Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo yesterday said Malacanang was pleased that the hard work and training of the Filipino athletes were paying off.
“The Palace is closely monitoring the performance of our athletes in the 30th South East Asian Games…
“We congratulate our athletes who have won and brought honor to the country in this ongoing biennial multi-sport event…We wish the rest of our athletes who will be competing on the coming days the best of luck,” he added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III took a swipe at the critics of the games that formally opened last Saturday.
In a Viber message to reporters, Sotto said the people who have been critical of the SEA Games have one thing in common – they have not represented the country in any sporting event.
“Did you notice that the people who are critical of the SEA Games were those who have never represented the country in sports? Was there any incident that they have represented the Philippines in any sporting event abroad?” Sotto said. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Raymond Africa