Hanoi—Fil-American Kayla Richardson was crowned the fastest woman of the 31st Southeast Asian Games on another slow day for the Philippines on Wednesday.
Richardson’s century dash win, to go with a gold in billiards and archery, nearly brought the Philippine campaign to a screeching halt, upping the Filipinos’ gold tally to just 37 at the third spot, with Indonesia and Singapore dangerously creeping in with 36 apiece at fourth and fifth spots, respectively.
Host Vietnam has unofficially dethroned the Philippines as overall champion with 124 golds, with Thailand a far runner-up with 48.
A slow starter, Richardson, who was also the 100-meter champion during the 2015 Singapore games, picked up the pace halfway through the century dash finals and held steady to the finish, clocking 11.6 seconds to master an 8-runner field that included 200-m queen, Singapore’s Shanti Pereira, who placed runner-up with a time of 11.62.
Kayla’s time was even better than her 11.76 in Singapore.
“I can’t complain. I’m so grateful. It took me a lot to get here. I thank God for getting me here,” said a teary-eyed Richardson, after sharing a sweet embrace with sister Kyla and father Jeff.
With the win, Kayla, redeemed herself from a bronze finish in the 200 meters, that was topped by Pereira three days ago. Her sister Kyla settled for the silver.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Abby Bidaure, competing in her second SEA Games, emerged as the heroine for Team Philippines, hitting the bull’s-eye in the final arrow of a shoot-off for a 10 with just 10 seconds left on the clock, leading the team to clinching a 26-25 win over the host squad.
The hawkeyes battled back with a 57-49 win in the fourth frame after trailing 1-2 in the first three, forcing a shoot-off that came down to Abby’s winning shot.
In billiards, Johann Chua, 29, pounced on two stunning miscues by reigning US Open champion Carlo Biado en route to a 9-6 victory to become the new 9-ball billiards champion here.
The 9-ball gold was the second for Pinoy cue artists here, with Rubilen Amit winning the women’s side of the event last Tuesday, beating Jessica Chan of Singapore, 7-2, for her ninth gold medal in the biennial event.
Gilas Pilipinas expectedly whipped Singapore, 88-37, at the Than Tri Gymnasium for its third straight win, while the Gilas women trounced rival Thailand, 97-81, for its second straight triumph.
Teen tennis sensation Alex Eala beat Malaysian Jo Leen Saw in straight sets at the Hanata Tu Son courts in Bac Ninh and also advanced to the semifinals of the mixed doubles in tandem with Treat Huey.
“Won my very first-ever SEA Games mixed doubles match. Thanks partner, Treat Huey! Also won my singles match today and moved to the semifinals. Laban PH!” the 16-year-old Eala exclaimed in her Facebook post.
But Pinoy taekwondo fighters got shut out for the day, with Vietnam winning five of the gold medals disputed and Myanmar and Indonesia taking one each.
Karateka Jamie Lim, one of the darlings of the national team that won the crown in 2019, failed to defend her crown.
The women’s football team failed in its bid to reach the gold medal play, losing 0-3 to Thailand, and will face the loser of the Vietnam-Myanmar battle for the bronze.