MANILA – The host Philippines kicked off its bid to duplicate the Southeast Asian Games overall championship it achieved 14 years ago with 19 glittering gold medals right on the first day of the 30th edition of the biennial meet on Sunday.
The dancesports and arnis came out with most brilliant performance, nine golds and four golds, respectively while triathlon and sepak takraw added two for the Team Philippines’ gold rush.
Pair Sean Aranar and Ana Nualla collected three golds in open standard, single dance tango and dance Viennese while another couple Mark Jayson Gayon and Mary Joy Renigen snatched the golds in single slow foxtrot and dance waltz of the dancesports competition at Royce Hotel in Clark, Pampanga.
Two more couples – Michael Angelo Marquez and Stephanie Sabalo, and Wilbert Aunzo and Pearl Marie Marie Cañeda were also unstoppable in open Latin category, winning two and three gold medals each.
The Philippines’ gold medals in arnis, the local martial arts, were won by Dexler Bolambao in men’s live stick bantamweight, Niño Mark Talledo (featherweight), Villardo Cunamay (lightweight, and Mike Bañares (welterweight).
Filipino triathletes bagged the Games’ first two gold medals after scoring an impressive double 1-2 finish in the triathlon competition in Subic Bay, Zambales.
John Leerams Chicano and Andrew Kim Romelino won the gold and silver of the men’s category, respectively, while Kim Mangrobang and teammate Kim Kilgroe also pulled out 1-2 finish in the women’s division.
The Philippine sepak takraw team completed a twin kill in hoop events to the delight of a huge crowd at the Subic Gymnasium in Subic, Pampanga.
Buoyed by the women’s breakthrough triumph earlier, the Filipino sepak takraw bets did not disappoint with a big follow-up victory as the hosts started strong on their four-gold medal bid in the biennial meet rolling off until December 11.
World champion gymnast Carlos Yulo lived up to expectation, winning the individual all-around event of the men’s artistic gymnastics.
On the other hand, Agatha Wong proved a class over the rest, retaining the gold medal in the taolu taijiquan event of wushu at the World Trade Center in Manila.
Wong, who performed fifth in the order of play, was spectacular among all the nine entries, registering 9.67 to handily win the gold.
Lachkar Basma of Brunei won the silver with 9.55 points while Tran Thi Minh Huyen of Vietnam scored had 9.53 for the bronze medal.
The Philippines also pocketed 10 silver and five bronze medals during the first day of competition after the grand opening ceremonies attended by President Rodrigo Duterte and Brunei's Sultan and Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on Saturday night.
Trailing the host country is Vietnam with five gold, 12 silver and 7 bronze medals followed by Malaysia with 4-12-2 medal tally, Singapore (3-2-4), Thailand (2-4-8), Indonesia (1-2-5), Brunei (1-2-1), Cambodia (0-2-3), Myanmar (0-1-4), Laos (0-0-2) and Timor Leste which has yet to win medal.
The Philippines won its first ever overall championship with 112 gold, 85 silver and 92 bronze medals in 2005 Manila SEA Games but in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur edition, the country has a dismal performance of 24-33-64 finish. (PNA)