By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Philippines had its best day to date in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday, winning five more gold medals to pad its medal tally early in the biennial regional meet.
Gymnasts Reyland Capellan and Kaitlin de Guzman, wushu artist Agatha Won, fencer Brennan Wayne Louie and sprinter Eric Cray added to the Philippines’ gold medal haul with impressive showings in their respective events to banner a fruitful day for the country that saw it improve to eight gold, 10 silver and nine bronze medals as of 10 p.m. last night.
Mr. Capellan started the gold notching for the Filipinos by ruling the men’s floor exercise event, which he also won in the previous SEA Games in Singapore.
The 23-year old Capellan bucked a faulty start to finish with 13.950 points to win the floor exercise event.
He bested Zul Bahrin Bin Mat Asri of Malaysia and Tikumporn Surintornta of Thailand, who registered 13.750 and 13.6700 points to settle for the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
“I’m so happy that I am able to contribute to the gold-medal production of the Philippines. I was a little nervous at the start that’s why I lost my balance and had a bad landing. But it’s okay; at least I made up for that missed opportunity in the latter part of my routine,” said Mr. Capellan, a product of the Centro Escolar University, after his win.
Next came Ms. De Guzman, a second-generation gymnast who topped the uneven bars category and in the process ended the country’s 20-year gold medal drought in the women’s artistic gymnastics event.
Ms. De Guzman, daughter of former SEA Games gold medal-winning gymnast Cintamoni Dela Cruz, got 12.875 points to win top honors in her event, edging Tracie Ang of Malaysia (12.550 points) and Rifda Irfanaluthfi of Indonesia (12.075 points).
“I am so happy now that I won a gold medal representing the Philippines,” said Ms. De Guzman, a senior at Epic Charter Home School in Dallas, Texas.
WUSHU AND FENCING
After a successful outing by the Filipino gymnasts, wushu artist Wong seconded their efforts by bagging the gold in the women’s taijiquan event after she scored 9.66 points.
Ms. Wong, who won a silver medal the previous day, defeated Basma Lachkar of Brunei (9.54 points) and Ho Lin Ying of Singapore (with 9.44 points), who got silver and bronze, respectively.
Filipino-American fencer Louie, meanwhile, beat compatriot Nathaniel Perez in the gold-medal match of men’s foil event in fencing competition.
Mr. Perez, a University of the East standout, settled for the silver together with Hanniel Abella, who lost to Nguyen Thi Hoa of Vietnam in the women’s individual epee competition.
Capping the solid day for the Philippines was Mr. Cray in athletics.
He first topped the 400m men’s hurdles by a narrow margin, clocking 50.03 seconds, just .02 seconds ahead of Vietnam’s Quach Cong Lich who came in at 50.05 seconds.
It was a successful title defense for Mr. Cray, who won the same event in Singapore in 2015.
Mr. Cray tried to make it a golden double in the 2017 SEA Games later in the night but his bid in the men’s 100m final fell short, finishing second with a time of 10:43 seconds to hometown bet Khairul Hafiz B J (10:38).