Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Pinoys scoop six gold medals, stay in sixth spot

Jun Lomibao
Business Mirror

VIENTIANE—Billiards and golf churned in two gold medals apiece and counting the mint each from athletics and muay, the Philippines registered its most productive day so far in the 25th Southeast Asian Games on Monday.

Ronnie Alcano won the men’s 8-ball gold in an all-Filipino final with Gandy Valle (7-1) and Rubilyn Amit affirmed her status as reigning world champion by topping the women’s individual event of 8-ball at the expense of Indonesia’s Angeline Ticoal (5-1) to atone for the forgettable performance of living legends Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante in the sport Filipinos are known to dominate in the global arena.

Chihiro Ikeda powered the women’s team to a sweep of the gold medals in golf as the Philippines—with Rene Herrera dominating the men’s 3,000 meters steeplechase in athletics and Zaida Laruan toying with his Lao opponent Bounthavy Vixay (on points) in muay’s men’s lightweight—scooped six gold medals for the day, the Filipinos’ best so far in the 10-day Games that end on Friday.

Those six gold medals were the second-best output by any of the 11 countries in the field. Thailand, the front-runner in the medals race, grabbed 11 to start building a significant gap over second-running Vietnam (five for the day, 31 overall) with a total gold haul of 40.

Singapore only won in shooting and swimming but remained third overall with 26 gold medals, followed by Malaysia (one for the day) with 21 and Indonesia (four for the day) with 20. The hosts are also performing beyond expectations and, with four victories on Monday, appeared a strong threat to the Philippine cause with 15 gold medals.

“I encountered some difficulty early in the match even though I went up, 4-0, on her,” said Amit. “After the score went 5-1, I made sure not to relax anymore and go for the win.”

Ticoal, who Amit said is a close friend, did not only lose the gold, but a hefty incentive.

“She’s my friend, but I knew she would try her best to win the gold medal. She would have been rewarded a $20,000 incentive in Indonesia had she beaten me,” she said.

Aquatics turned up dry on Monday. Miguel Molina settled for the men’s 200 freestyle with a 1:51.71 clocking. Although it surpassed the Games record, Malaysia’s Daniel Bego turned in a better time of 1:49.22.

Diving ended on Monday but the best the Philippines could muster was a silver in men’s.

But Philippine Aquatic Sports Association president Mark Joseph cried foul. He alleged Malaysia and Indonesia have conspired in denying the Filipinos a chance to win the gold medal in the event which was topped by Indons Noor Husaini and Muhammad Nasrullah (376.74 points).

It was the second time the Filipinos were denied of the gold medal after two-time Olympian Shiela Mae Perez lost to Tranh Tra Hoang of Vietnam by only four points in her pet 3-meter springboard.

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