PH triathletes rule SEAG
KUALA LUMPUR—The vaunted triathlon squad lived up to its potential to capture a pair of gold medals to switch on the country’s medal machine in the 29th Southeast Asian Games Monday at the Water Sports Complex in Putrajaya City.
Nikko Huelgas and Kim Mangrobang emerged with a masterful performance in the men’s and women’s triathlon events to provide a ray of hope for a country that remains hunting for 47 additional gold medals more to match its initial target and consider its campaign a success.
Huelgas, the gold medalist in the previous SEA Games in Singapore, clocked one hour, 59 minutes and 21 seconds to retain his crown while teammate John Chicano timed 2:01:26 to formally complete a gold-silver medal performance in men’s triathlon.
Mangrobang registered 2:11:14 to win the gold medal while last SEA Games’ gold-medal winner Ma. Claire Adorna settled for the silver with 2:18:58.
After lagging behind Singaporean Clement Chow in the 1.5-kilometer swim on the beautiful man-made lake, Huelgas caught fire and regained his bearing in the bike category before running with Chicano starting the second loop of biking.
Mangrobang and Adorna displayed the same amount of teamwork in the distaff side that allowed them to remove hometown bet Irene Wong in the gold-medal equation.
“It’s okay that I lose the gold,” said Adorna, who ran alongside Mangrobang up to transition two before suffering cramps that prompted her to give her teammate the go-signal to zoom to victory.
“It doesn’t matter who would win. The important thing is that we keep the gold and silver medals and this victory is for the country. We had a very good strategy and we played perfectly as a team.”
Meanwhile, Florante Matan, Gabriel Moreno and Mark Javier as well as Nicole Marie Tagle, Mary Queen Ybanez and Kareel Meer Hongitan settled for the bronze in the men’s and women’s recurve events at the National Sports Center Synthetic Turf Field.
The troika of Matan, Moreno and Javier was completely outclassed by the Malaysians, 54-57, 53-58, 49-52, before bouncing back against the Vietnamese in the bronze medal game, 50-49, 55-54, 52-55.
The triumvirate of Tagle, Ybanez and Meer, on the other hand, suffered the same fate, losing to Indonesia, 50-52, 55-54, 54-56, 52-55, before recovering against Vietnam to salvage the bronze, 51-44, 50-47, 55-47.
Also emerging with a medal in a very productive day for Team Philippines was the sepak takraw squad of Rizalyn Amolacion, Mary Ann Lopez, Jean Marie Sucalit, Kristel Karloman and Lhaina Lhiell Mangubat, which dominated Indonesia to claim the bronze medal in women’s regu event of sepak takraw.
It was sepak takraw team’s second medal in the biennial meet after its men’s team delivered a silver medal in the chinlone event in the early stretch of the tournament.
Save for the triathletes, archers and sepak takraw aces, the national fencers and a young wushu artist also delivered.
Samantha Catantan emerged with a silver medal while Maxine Esteban ran away with a bronze medal in the women’s individual foil event of fencing competition.
In wushu, Agatha Wong scored 9.65 points to punch the silver meal in women’s optional taijian.
With those impressive victories, the Philippines climbed a notch higher in the meet’s official medal tally with three gold, five silver and five bronze medals.
The Nationals are now behind top-running Malaysia wit 21 gold, 18 silver and 15 bronze medals while Singapore is in far second with nine gold, 10 silver and eight bronze meadals.
Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam are just slightly ahead of the Phiippines but it could change depending on the result of athletics, karate, billiards, fencing, gymnastics and other sports on Tuesday and Wednesday where Filipinos have a golden chance of winning.