Gymnasts fail to duplicate feat as Team PH stumbles
KUALA LUMPUR—It was heartbreak Wednesday for Team Philippines as the gymnasts, karate fighters and a grizzled thrower all suffered heart-breaking defeats midway into the 29th Southeast Asian Games Wednesday here.
Gymnasts Kaitlin de Guzman and Reyland Capellan, the heroes of Tuesday’s hostilities, failed to sustain their hot performance, while karatekas John Paul Bejar and Mae Soriano fell short as well as Arniel Ferrera, who was forced to hop out of retirement and compete in the men’s hammer throw event after reigning gold medalist Caleb Stuart suffered an injury.
The 17-year-old De Guzman captured the silver medal in the floor exercise after scoring 13.025 points before delivering the bronze in the balance beam after tallying 12.3 points.
Hometown bet Farah Ann won the gold with 13.250 points, while Rifda Irfanaluthf of Indonesia settled for bronze with 13.000 points in floor exercise.
In the balance beam, Rifda tallied 13.125 points, while Tan Ing Yueh of Malaysia grabbed the silver with a score of 13.100 points.
Her silver and bronze medal are great additions to her gold medal, which she won in the uneven bars event last Tuesday, making her the most bemadalled athlete midway into this prestigious biennial meet.
“I can’t say how to feel right now; I’m so happy,” said the Texas-raised de Guzman, whose mother, Cintamoni, won a gold medal in the 1995 SEA Games in Chiang Mai, Thailand. “I came here without knowing what to expect, so it really feels good to represent the country and duplicate what my mom achieved in the past.”
On the same note, Capellan also added a bronze medal to his collection after ruling the vault event in the finals of men’s artistic gymnastics.
He tallied 13.975 points in two tries to finish behind Le Tranh Tung of Vietnam (14.450 points) and Agus Adi Prayoko of Indonesia (14.350 points), who grabbed the gold and silver medals, respectively.
Bejar had the chance to bail the Philippines out of a gold-less day as he advanced to the finals of men’s -55kg kumite.
But he fell prey to a hard-hitting Iwan Bidu Sirait of Indonesia in the gold-medal match to settle for silver, while his teammate, Mae Soriano, collected the bronze after emerging victorious over April Phaw of Myanmar in the bronze-medal match of women’s -55kg kumite.
Few hours prior to Beram’s sorry defeat, evergreen Ferrera fell short in men’s hammer throw as he registered a heave of 55.94 meters in his sixth attempt for the bronze medal behind the record-breaking performance of Wong Siew Cheer of Malaysia (65.90 meters) and Kittipong Boonmawan of Thailand (65.49 meters).
Wong crushed the record of Stuart, who tallied 65.63 meters in the previous SEA Games in Singapore.
Ferrera’s bittersweet finish was similar to the development that happened to Team Philippines before the end of the day on Tuesday at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
Eric Cray, the two-time Olympian from Texas, successfully retained his crown in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, but fell prey in the men’s 100-meter run due to a crammed schedule.
Cray registered 50.03 seconds to edge upset-conscious Quach Cong Lich of Vietnam and Andrian of Indonesia, who tallied 50.05 and 51.52 seconds, respectively.
Unfortunately, he fell prey to rising Malaysian star Khairul Hafiz Jantan in the century dash as the event had to be played barely an hour after the draining 400-meter hurdles.
Jantan tallied 10.38 seconds, while Cray and Kritsada Namsuwun of Thailand finished with an identical 10.43 seconds.
“I did my best shot at the 100, but the Malaysian had a good race,” said Cray, who saw action in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. “But if the 100 was run tomorrow, things could have been different. And when I saw the Vietnamese bearing down on me in the 400, it somehow cost me momentum because I was trying to save my energy for the 100.”
Not far from athletics’ action, young tanker Roxanne Yu also barged into the medal tally after delivering a bronze in the women’s 200-meter backstroke event late Tuesday at the National Aquatic Center.
Yu clocked two minutes and 19.98 seconds to settle for bronze behind Nguyen Thi Anh of Vietnam (2:13.64 seconds) and Yessey Venesia Yossa of Indonesia (2:18.19 seconds), whop captured the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
The national tankers will have a chance to finally break their golden drought when Olympian Jasmine Alkhaldi competes in her pet event – the women’s 100-meter freestyle – on Thursday night.
With today’s haul of two silver and four bronze medals, the Philippines remains at sixth with eight gold, 13 silver and 15 bronze medals.
Malaysia continued to rule the medal standing with 42 gold, 35 silver and 23 bronze medals, while Vietnam already overtook Singapore with 21 gold medals.
Singapore has 20 while Thailand and Indonesia has 14 and 13 gold medals, respectively.
The Philippines still has a handsome chance of averting a gold-less day as two-time Olympian Jasmine Alkhaldi of swimming and rising star Trenten Berram of athletics were set to see action later in the day.
Alkhaldi is seeing action in the women’s 100-meter freestyle while Berram bested Cray’s tormentor in the century dash -- Hafiz Jantan – to rule the preliminary heats of the men’s 200-meter run.
By Thursday, gold would expect to come flooding in as Mario Fernandez, Eumir Felix Marcial and Marvin John Tupas shoot for crown in men’s boxing competition.
First to step on the ring for a record third consecutive gold medal is Fernandez, who will clash with Chatchai Butdee of Thailand in the finals of the bantamweight category.
Then, it will be Marcial’s turn to shoot for glory when he faces another Thai in Pathomsak Kuttiya in the middleweight class.
Filipino-British Tupas will round up the Philippines’ finals campaign when he goes head-to-head against Adli Hapidz Bin Mohd Fauzi of Malaysia in the light heavyweight class.
The star-studded billiards’ squad of Carlo Biado and Warren Kiamco as well as Rubilen Amit and Cheska Centeno will also see action to defend their respective titles in the men’s and women’s 9-ball pool doubles.
The squash squad will also fight for gold in women’s jumbo event, giving the Filipinos a ray of hope as the tournament enters its midway mark.