PHL set for best SEA Games finish

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By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

THE PHILIPPINES is now near surpassing its best finish in the Southeast Asian Games as it continued to add to its gold medal haul on Sunday.

As of 6 p.m. yesterday, the country has already accumulated 104 gold medals in the ongoing biennial regional sporting meet, just nine away from the 113 gold mints the Philippines got in 2005 where it finished first overall.

The 101 golds the host already had actually were more than the 91 the country earned in 1991 in the Games held here as well.

Among the gold medal sources yesterday were softball, surfing, skateboarding and baseball.

The Blu Girls, the country’s women’s national softball team, picked up their 10th SEA Games gold by way of a sweep to continue their unbeaten run in the biennial meet. They routed Indonesia, 8-0, in the final.

The team was powered by Cheska Altomonte, Garie Blando, Mary Ann Antoleh Hao, Ezra Jalandoni, Lyka Basa and Kikay Palma, among others. They have won SEA Games golds in 1979, 1981, 1987, 1991, 1997, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2015.

“Of all the softball titles by the Blu Girls this is the easiest and the sweetest,” said team manager Randy Dizer after their latest feat. “It’s because we played in our home court, that’s the biggest thing.”

Hero surfer Roger Casugay, meanwhile, won the gold in the men’s longboarding category.

Mr. Casugay created news at the weekend after he helped a rival surfer who had trouble in the waves of Monalisa Point beach in La Union after his surfer’s leash broke.

The Filipino surfer has gotten a lot of praise for showing the traits that embody true sportsmanship and is set to be recognized as well for his commendable deed when athletes are presented and awarded in Malacañang after the Games.

In skateboarding, after two runner-up finishes in the Games previously — Game of S.K.A.T.E. and skateboard street — Christiana Means finally had a golden breakthrough, winning in the women’s skateboard park category.

Ms. Means had total points of 11.20, ahead of Indonesians Nyimas Cinta (10.76) and Neepa Pramesti (8.10), who took silver and bronze, respectively.

The men’s baseball team, meanwhile, gifted the Philippines another gold after defeating Thailand, 15-2, in the finals on Sunday in Pampanga.

Meanwhile, records were broken in SEA Games athletics on Dec. 7.

Filipino-foreigner female track athlete Kristina Knotts and Olympics-bound pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena rewrote SEA Games history with their impressive showing in athletics action that happened at the New Clark City Oval Stadium in Capas, Tarlac.

Running in lane No. 4, Ms. Knott accelerated in the homestretch and pulled away in ruling the women’s 200m event in a record-breaking time of 23.01 seconds.

Her time broke her own record of 23.07 set earlier in the day in the qualifiers and 18-year-old SEAG record of 23.30 seconds set by Thai Supavadee Khawpeag in the 2001 Malaysia Games.

It also surpassed the national record set by Philippine athletics legend Lydia de Vega of 23.50 in a meet held in Walnut, California, 33 years ago.

Making no secret of her Olympic aspirations, Ms. Knott likewise came within striking distance of the qualifying time of 22.80 seconds for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Mr. Obiena, for his part, handily clinched his pet event in clearing 5.45 meters for the gold, which also went down as a new SEA Games record.

It surpassed the previous mark of 5.35 meters of dethroned Thai champion Porranot Purahong, who was relegated to the silver (5.20) while Malaysia’s Iskandar Alwi (5.00) took the bronze.

After sealing the gold at 5.45 meters, Mr. Obiena, whose national record is 5.81 meters, attempted at 5:55 but failed thrice, after which he waved at the stands to the ovation of the appreciative hometown crowd of around 6,000.