Friday, 18 December 2009

RP now with 37 golds

Jun Lomibao
Business Mirror

VIENTIANE—Seven gold medals were added to the Philippine coffers on Thursday, a day before the 25th Southeast Asian Games comes to a close in this landlocked state of 6 million who have revealed their country’s laid-back yet simple and calm beauty that could potentially become one of the region’s most-sought-after destinations.

Those glittering seven golds thus gave all 256 athletes on Team Philippines more than enough reasons to return home in two batches on Friday and Saturday beaming with pride and honor.

Their cry when they hit Manila? Mission accomplished!

First, the modest goal of finishing better than sixth was achieved.

And, second, expectations in terms of the number of gold medals hauled were surpassed.

Boxers Charly Suarez and Bill Vicera made up for the loss of two-time Olympian Harry Tañamor and wrestlers Jimmy Angana—a veteran—and Jason Balabal—a Games first-timer—highlighted the penultimate-day sparkling performance that put the Philippines in fifth place overall at sundown here on Thursday with 37 gold medals, only one less than fourth-running Malaysia.

Wushu delivered a second gold courtesy of Mark Eddiva in men’s sanshou 65-kg class, billiards had a second from world champion Rubilen Amit in women’s individual of 8-ball and a seventh in athletics from 37-year-old Daniel Fresnido in men’s javelin.

With a 37-32-47 gold-silver-bronze harvest, the Philippines hounded Malaysia for third place. The Malaysians provisionally stood at third with 38-38-58.

Thailand also found a pesky challenger for the overall crown. The Thais and the Vietnamese each had 80 of the 350 golds staked—out of the 370—but the former, the defending champions, had 79 silvers and 92 bronzes to the latter’s 66 and 55.

Indonesia was at third, but remained unsure whether it will remain there. It also has 38 gold medals like the Malaysians, but has more silvers with 51 and bronzes with 69 to the 38 and 58 of their closest pursuer.

Singapore, with 33 gold medals, appeared safe of finishing sixth over Laos, which has overachieved with 30 gold medals. Myanmar had 10 golds, Cambodia three and Brunei one. East Timor has yet to win its first gold in the Games.

Philippine Sports Commission chairman Harry Angping admitted he was wrong with his prediction on the gold-medal haul and praised the athletes for their achievement.

“I congratulate them for proving me wrong on my projections,” said Angping, who had said he would be happy if the RP bets wind up with 32 golds, half of what the POC promised. “The resiliency and fighting spirit of the Filipino athletes have been shown once again.”

Vicera, Suarez sparkle
BILL VICERA beat the host’s Sikham, 6-3, in the 46-kg final, while Charley Suarez, only 21, knocked out Cambodian Phal Sophat in the second round of the 57-kg final to underscore the Philippines’ boxing campaign that was significantly tainted by the loss of veteran Harry Tañamor.

With Tañamor’s loss, the men failed to match the three-of-three performance booked by the women in the gold-medal rounds.

Tañamor, 31, who the Thais said “could no longer pull the trigger,” indeed couldn’t and lost to a quicker and rapid-punching Thai Kaeo Prongprayoon, 3-1, in the 48-kg class.

The Philippines garnered a total five golds, one silver and three bronzes, far better than the 1-12-2 tally it booked in the controversial edition in Thailand two years ago.

The Filipinos finished second anew to the Thais, who clinched six gold medals.

“Despite some setbacks, we’re definitely happy with the way our boxers performed here,” admitted Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines executive director Ed Picson, noting that nine of the 10 boxers sent here won a medal each.

Another Angana wins gold
JIMMY ANGANA did just what his younger brother Margarito pulled off in these Games—win a wrestling gold medal in his event, freestyle’s 66-kg class for men.

Angana, whose brother Margarito topped the 55-kg category on Tuesday, beat Vietnam’s Bui Tuan Anh, Singapore’s Aloysius Chua, Indonesia’s Ardiyansah Darmawa and Thailand’s Pitchaipusit Taprad (via retirement) to finish better than the silver he snatched in Thailand in 2007.

The 23-year-old Jason Balabal, on the other hand, bagged the 85-kg title also in freestyle, beating everyone in the event, including Cambodia’s Dorn Saov, Thailand’s Surachet Kwannai and Singapore’s Gabriel Yang.

However, a third Angana on the team, Jerry, could only finish third in the 55-kg class.

Fresnido, Amit and Eddiva also shine
Danilo Fresnido improved on the silver he clinched in 2007 by hurling the javelin to 72.93 meters, numbers that shattered the 70.70 RP national record set by Benjamin Cawicaan in the 1999 National Open. Thais Nontach Panalupat (67.68) took the silver and Sanya Buathong (67.43) bagged the bronze.

Fresnido’s gold was the seventh from athletics, exactly what track and field association head Go Teng Kok had predicted.

Rubilen Amit added a second gold from billiards by beating Angeline Ticoal of Indonesia, 5-1, in women’s 8-ball individual. Billiards was a disappointment in these Games as it contributed only two gold medals, the other from Ronnie Alcano.

Mark Eddiva made it a two-gold output in wushu when he beat Tin Lin Aung of Myanmar in the 65-kg class of women’s sanshou.

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