Team PH delivers more gold in 29th SEA Games
KUALA LUMPUR -- On a busy day where a gold rush was expected, a pair of gymnasts stepped forward and sparked the movement before a wushu artist and a fencer delivered to fuel the country’s campaign midway into the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
Veteran Reyland Capellan and rising star Kaitlin de Guzman buckled down to work early and reigned supreme in their respective events in the gymnastics competition on Tuesday at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Center here.
The 23-year- old Capellan, a gold medalist in the previous SEA Games in Singapore, overcame a faulty start to finish with 13.950 points en route to winning the men’s floor exercise event.
Capellan 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.
Capellan said he was so tense at the start, prompting him to lose his balance. But when he regained his composure, performing his routine appeared like a walk in the park for him.
“I’m so happy that I am able to contribute to the gold-medal production of the Philippines,” said Capellan, a former member of the Centro Escolar University pep squad who also campaigned in the World Artistic Gymnastics in Glasgow two years ago.
“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.”
Barely an hour after grabbing the gold, it was the 17-year- old De Guzman’s turn to step into the top podium as she registered 12.875 points to rule the uneven bars category and ends the country’s 20-year old gold-medal drought in women’s artistic gymnastics event.
Tracie Ang of Malaysia settled for the silver medal with 12.550 points while Rifda Irfanaluthfi of Indonesia grabbed the bronze medal with 12.075 points.
“I am so happy now that I won a gold medal representing the Philippines,” said De Guzman, a senior at Epic Charter Home School in Dallas, Texas.
De Guzman’s feat didn’t come as a surprise.
Her mother, Cintamoni Dela Cruz, ruled the same event in the 1995 SEA Games in Chiang Mai and was part of the squad that emerged with a bronze medal in team event in the Jakarta SEA Games in 1997.
“We were not expecting her to win (the gold medal) since this is just her first SEA Games,” said Dela Cruz. “All we were hoping is for her to qualify in the finals. This victory is a major surprise. That’s why we’re so happy with this achievement.”
But the gymnasts were not alone in providing a ray of hope for Team Philippines.
Also emerging with a gold medal in this long, hectic day where 45 gold medals were disputed are wushu artist Agatha Won and fencer Brennan Wayne Louie.
Wong, who already has a silver medal under her name, added a gold for good measure after she scored 9.66 points to rule the women’s taijiquan event.
The Filipino-American Louie, a gold medalist in the Asean Championship, for his part, clobbered compatriot Nathaniel Perez in the gold-medal match of men’s foil event in fencing competition.
Perez, a University of the East standout, settles for the silver together with Hanniel Abella, who lost to Nguyen Thi Hoa of Vietnam in the women’s individual epee competition.
With Capellan, De Guzman, Wong and Louie’s achievements, the Filipinos’ golden haul was jacked up to seven, thanks to previous gold-medal winners like Mary Joy Tabal of athletics and Nikko Huelgas and Kim Mangrobang of triathlon.
As of 6 p.m., Malaysia remains on top with 32 gold, 23 silver and 15 bronze medals while Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand are way behind with 14, 10, 10 and seven gold medals, respectively.
The Philippines can possibly overtake the Thais as several gold medals more are being expected in various fronts like athletics, karate, judo and boxing, where Mario Fernandez, Eumir Felix Marcial and John Marvin Tupaz will be competing for the crown.
Fernandez dominated Nan Siek Nin of Cambodia in the bantamweight class while Marcial stopped Indran Rama Krishnan of Malaysia in the middleweight class and Tupas knocked down Anavat Thongkrathok of Thailand before winning via unanimous decision in the light heavyweight semifinals.
Unfortunately, Olympian Charly Suarez and Ian Clark Bautista fell by the wayside after losing to their respective foes.
Suarez, who is fighting in a higher weight class, lost to Wuichai Masuk of Malaysia in light welterweight while Bautista bowed to Tanes Ogjunta of Thailand in flyweight division to settle for bronze.