Martial artists deliver a pair of mints for Team PHI

Martial artists deliver a pair of mints for Team PHI
Kiyomi Watanebe of the Philippines (white) competes against Oran Senetham of Thailand (blue) in the women's -63kg class of the 29th Southeast Asian Games judo competition. Watanabe prevailed via ippon in 36 seconds to clinch the gold medal.

KUALA LUMPUR --- A pair of masterful conquests provided a ray of sunshine for Team Philippines in this cold and gloomy day in the 29th Southeast Asian Games Saturday here.

Prized judoka Kiyomi Watanabe and the men’s poomsae squad successfully defended their respective crowns to boost the country’s gold-medal harvest as this prestigious 11-nation conclave enters its crucial stretch.

The Filipino-Japanese Watanabe celebrated her 21st birthday in style as she dominated Orapin Senetham of Thailand via ippon in the gold medal match of the women’s -63kg category judo competition.

Watanabe, who is being groomed to win the Philippines’ first gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, needed just 36 seconds to flatten her Thai foe, whom she also clobbered in the gold-medal match of the previous SEA Games in Singapore.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Watanabe, who celebrated her birthday just the other day, through her mother, Irene. “But I did my best for the country.”

Watanabe added that she will check out of this city Sunday to compete in the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Prior to that dominant performance over the Thai, Watanabe crushed Nik Norlydiawati Bin Nik Azman of Malaysia and Noe Wai Chu Myat of Myanmar, who drew a bye in the first round.

She dominated all her foes via ippon – a testament of her supremacy and prowess.

Also emerging victorious was the men’s poomsae team of Dustin Jacob Mella, Raphael Enrico Mella and Rodolfo Reyes, which ruled the men’s poomsae event at the start of taekwondo competition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center.

The troika had a near-flawless performance and registered a score of 8.40 points to clinch the gold for the third straight time starting in the Myanmar SEA Games in 2013.

Malaysia settled for the silver medal while Indonesia grabbed the bronze.

The women’s poomsae team of Jocel Lyn Ninobla Rinna Babanto and Juvenile Crisostomo, on the other hand, tallied 8.27 points to settle for bronze medal while Reyes claimed the bronze in the men’s individual event.

Still, the day belonged to the trio.

Dustin, a 22-year old Business Economics student, said all their effort and hard work in daily training paid off.

In fact, the job is not yet done as they will still fly to Ashgabat in Turkmenistan next month to compete in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.

“All the hard work and sacrifices paid off,” he said. “Lahat ng hirap namin sa training was all worth it.”

With two gold medals hanging on its neck, and another one expected to come from men’s basketball at the end of the day, the Philippine contingent further widened its lead from Myanmar with 17 gold, 24 silver and 41 bronze medals.

Malaysia is on its way to grab the overall crown with 76 gold, 52 silver and 49 bronze medals while Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand are far behind with 44, 42 and 39 mints, respectively.

Also chipping in to the country’s medal harvest were athletes from equestrian, lawn bowls, tennis, athletics and cycling.

Chiara Amor Collins, Joker Arroyo, Toni Leviste and Syquia Collins plucked the silver medal in team show jumping event of equestrian competition while the duo of Marcelito Pancho and Angelo Morales finished behind Malaysia in the finals of men’s pairs lawn bowls tourney.

Tennis ace Anna Clarice Patrimonio, for her part, bowed to topseed Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand, 6-0, 6-1, to settle for bronze in the women’s singles event.

“Medyo ninerbiyos po ako sa dami ng tao,” said the 23-year old Patrimonio, the daughter of former Philippine Basketball Association star Alvin Patrimonio. “But I’m happy that I got a silver medal. I’ll try to do better in the 2019 SEA Games.”

Ruben Gonzales and Francis Casey Alcantara were accounted for tennis’ other silver medal in men’s doubles while Gonzales and Dy settled for bronze in mixed doubles and Dy and Katharina Lehnert grabbed the bronze in women’s doubles.

Clinton Bautista also added to the haul after registering 14.15 seconds to pluck the bronze medal in the men’s 110-meter hurdles at the National Stadium.

Malaysian Rayzam Shah took the gold medal with 13.83 seconds while Thai Jamras Rittidet grabbed the silver medal with 14.10 seconds.

Unfortunately, Olympian and former SEA Games gold medalist Daniel Caluag and rising star Sienna Fines failed to live above expectations as they came up short in BMX event at the Velodrome Nasional Nilai.

The Los Angeles-based Caluag failed to sustain his hot start as he finished with 31.283 seconds to settle for bronze medal behind Gusti Bagus Saputra of Indonesia (30.630 seconds) and Nonthakon Inkhoksong of Thailand (31.089), who clinched the gold and silver medals, respectively.

Caluag’s brother, Christopher, was also unfortunate as he finished fifth with 31.531 seconds.

In the women’s division, Fines finished last after suffering a crash at Moto 3 of the 336-meter circuit.

Judokas Keisei Nakano and Shugen Nakano chipped in a pair of bronze medals in the men’s -73kg and -66kg, respectively.

Keisei prevailed over Thiti Kumpapan of Thailand in the Round of 8 before losing to Tan Cong Nguyen of Vietnam.

His brother, Shugen, succumbed to MS Raharjo of Indonesia before winning over Burmese Zayar Tun Aung and Ace Ang of Singapore.

Meanwhile, Cheska Centeno and Rubilen Amit dominated their respective foes to book an all-Filipino finals duel in the women’s 9-ball singles event of billiards competition.

Centeno prevailed over Klaudia Djajalie of Malaysia, 7-2, while Amit clobbered Suhana Dewi Sabti of Malaysia, 7-1.

Their face-off, a rematch of that of the previous SEA Games in Singapore in 2015, is set on Sunday.

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