Hanoi—Tokyo Olympics weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and esports Team Sibol retained their respective titles on Wednesday, as brawn and brains kept the Philippines’ hopes of finishing third in the 31st Southeast Asian Games hosted by Vietnam alive.
Diaz prevailed in her faceoff with fellow Olympic gold medalist Thai Tanasan Sanikun Friday with a total lift of 206 kgs (snatch and clean and jerk) to snatch Philippine weightlifting’s first gold in the games.
“My journey to Paris starts here, so this SEA Games gold is very important for me,” said Diaz, who ended the country’s decades-long wait for an Olympic gold by winning in Tokyo last year.
“Napaka-meaningful nito (SEA Games). After winning the gold medal (in Tokyo), bumalik pa din ako, nakapag-deliver ng gold medal for the Philippines. Masaya ako na nandito ako ulit ako sa SEA Games, na i-represent ang Pilipinas,” added Diaz after delivering the Philippines’ 42nd gold.
Esports, represented by Sibol-Blacklist, delivered the country’s second win Friday, the country’s 41st gold, while judoka Shugen Nagano won the 43rd in the 66kg class.
But winless stints in other fronts left the Philippines, backed by the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission, sliding to fifth overall from fourth, with Singapore moving up to third and Indonesia climbing to fourth.
Host Vietnam continued to run roughshod over the opposition going into the last three days of action, with Thailand assured of runner-up honors.
The Philippines-Sibol team of Johnmar “Phi Villaluna” Villaluna, Danerie “Phi del Rosario” del Rosario, Salic “Hadji” Imam, and Dexter “Phi Alaba” Alaba scored a 3-1 win over Indonesia in the finals of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang at the Vietnam Convention Center.
The win came after the women’s Wild Rift squad triumphed late last Wednesday.
Nagano, 25, who edged Kimheng Vorn of Cambodia 1-0 in the semifinals, beat Hoang Phuc Tan of Vietnam in the gold medal match of the men’s 66kg division at the Hoai Duc Gymnasium, improving on the silver medal finish of brother Keisei, who settled for second in the minus-73kg class Thursday.
Nagano kept the title he won in the Philippines three years ago and delivered judo’s second gold here, after Rena Furukawa’s earlier win last Thursday.
Three more gold medals are expected to prop up the Pinoy campaign Saturday, two of them in the 10-ball men’s and women’s singles of billiards, and in the men’s doubles of tennis.
Another judoka, Khrizzie Pabulayan, won a silver medal in the women’s minus 52kg class, along with Carlo Von Buminaag in the men’s 65kg division of vovinam, a Vietnamese form of martial art.
Rising tennis star Alex Eala ended her SEA Games debut with three bronze medals, including one in the women’s singles event where she lost to Thai Luksika Kumkhum 4-6, 1-6 at the Hanaka Paris Ocean Park Centre.
Eala and Treat Huey also won a bronze in mixed doubles, the same finish of Woman Grandmaster Janelle Mae Frayna in the women’s individual blitz action of chess, and the men’s and women’s teams in beach volleyball.