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32nd Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Philippine athletes surpass medal haul in Hanoi SEAG

Reclaim supremacy in men’s basketball

PHNOM PENH — Filipino bets in Olympic sports did the heavy lifting as Team Philippines amassed a grand total of 58 gold medals, 85 silvers and 117 bronzes in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games that officially ended yesterday.

The taekwondo jins led the 33-51-52 medal rush in this group with a 6-1-8 harvest highlighted by a three-peat in the men’s -54kg class by Tokyo Olympian Kurt Barbosa.

Athletics, boxing and gymnastics — teams headlined by Barbosa’s 2020 Games batchmates EJ Obiena, Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio and Caloy Yulo — delivered four mints apiece.

Mr. Obiena posted a record-breaking third straight triumph in pole vault to spearhead a 4-10-8 tally for the trackters while three-time individual all around king Mr. Yulo dazzled with two golds and two silvers in gymnastics’ 4-2-2 take.

Tokyo silver medalists Mr. Paalam and Ms. Petecio played true to form in ruling the men’s 54kg and women’s 57kg category, respectively, to banner the boxers’ 4-5-1 collection.

Wrestling provided a pleasant surprise as it produced 4-7-5 after a seven-silver, five-bronze delivery in the previous edition in Hanoi.

Triathlon accounted for 3-2-1 (counting aquathlon and duathlon) while the fellow weightlifters of Olympic champ Hidilyn Diaz netted two golds (along with three new SEAG marks) plus four silvers and one bronze.

Swimming doubled its production from Vietnam to two golds, both won in record times, to go with six silvers and eight bronzes.

Judo clinched one mint plus a silver and five bronzes while the men’s 5-on-5 basketball gold was re-taken by Gilas Pilipinas.

Fencing had five silvers and the same number of bronzes to its belt.

Aces in the Filipino martial art of arnis and the stronghold of obstacle race struck hard for the delegation backed by the PSC and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) as well.

The arnisadors collared 6-2-4 and finished top of the table as the world record-shattering obstacle racers swept their way to four golds and two silvers.

Soft tennis exceeded expectations as its netters won three golds, a silver and a bronze.

Karate, which didn’t make it to the Paris Olympic program, had 2-6-1.

Other non-Olympic martial arts proved to be a goldmine in this edition with kickboxing (3-4-8), jiu-jitsu (3-1-8) and even the little known Cambodian art of kun bukator (2-6-6) making productive hauls.

As in the past two SEAG staging, esports had a stellar performance and snared 2-1-3.

When the dust of battle settled in Cambodia’s maiden hosting, the Filipinos ranked fifth overall behind Vietnam (136-105-114), Thailand (108-96-108), Indonesia (87-80-109) and the home team (81-85-127).

It was a one-rung downgrade from the No. 4 placing in Hanoi but POC President Abraham Tolentino considered it “a strong performance.”

“The medal haul will speak for itself,” said Mr. Tolentino, pointing out the fact that the team improved on the 52-mint, 70-silver, 105-bronze output last time.

“The important thing is we surpassed the medal haul last SEA Games and we have reclaimed basketball supremacy in the region,” he added. — Olmin Leyba

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