BAC NINH, Vietnam – Six Filipinos led by Jean Claude Saclag and Gina Iniong Araos vie for gold medals in the finals of the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games kickboxing tourney on Friday at the Bac Ninh Gymnasium in Hanoi.
Mr. Saclag, the reigning champion in the men’s low kick 63.5kg class, battles Chaleamlap Santidongsakun of Thailand while Ms. Araos, also the defending champion, faces another Thai, Waraporn Jaiteang, in the women’s low kick minus 60kg class.
Also fighting for the gold are Renalyn Dacquel who is up against hometown bet Thi Hang Nga Nguyen in the women’s minus 48kg full contact category; Gretel De Paz who will battle Indonesian Pieter Ariesta in the women’s full contact minus 56kg division; Zeph Ngaya who takes on Vietnamese Huynh Thi Kim Vang in the women’s minus 65kg full contact finale; and Claudine Veloso who clashes with Amanda Loupatty of Indonesia in the women’s minus 52kg low kick division.
Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas (SKP) Secretary-General Atty. Wharton Chan believes the country can surpass the 2019 SEA Games haul of three gold medals, two silvers, and a bronze in this year’s regional showpiece.
“Our athletes have done a tremendous performance and exceptional job despite fighting in a hostile terrain after beating several Vietnamese athletes,” Mr. Chan said. “I predict we can be at 80% or 5-of-6 or maybe 4-of-6 in winning golds in tomorrow’s finals. We can surpass the three golds last time.”
Whatever happens in the finals, the Philippines is assured of bringing home eight medals, counting the bronze medals won by Honorio Banario and Emmanuel Cantores, who suffered 0-3 defeats in the semis.
Mr. Banario lost to Cambodia’s Lvay Chhoeung in the men’s semifinals of the minus 71kg low kick event while Mr. Cantores bowed to Nguyen Quang Huy of host Vietnam in the men’s semifinals of the minus 60kg low kick event.