Team PHI warms up, collects most number of mints in days

ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 22, 2017 06:52 PM
Team PHI warms up, collects most number of mints in days
Reyland Capellan (left) and Kaitlin de Guzman (right) celebrate with Gymnastics Association of the Philippines and chief of mission Cynthia Carrion after winning two gold medals in the gymnastics competition of the 29th Southeast Asian 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, a fencer and a track and field bet 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 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 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.

Dela Cruz said all they’ve been praying for was for her daughter to advance to the finals since this is just her first try in the biennial meet despite competing in the United States where she is part of Metroplex Gymnastics in Texas.

“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 Tuesday where 45 gold medals were disputed are wushu artist Agatha Wong 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.

Basma Lachkar of Brunei settled for silver with 9.54 points while Ho Lin Ying of Singapore grabbed the bronze with 9.44 points.

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.

Fil-American Eric Cray 

Eric Cray ended Team Philippines’ productive day with another gold medal after winning the men’s 400m hurdles at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Cray defended his throne in his pet event for a third straight 400m. hurdles gold medal win in the biennial meet as he clocked in at 50.03 seconds.       

With just less than an hour of rest, Cray again stepped on the starting line but fell short in retaining his 100m. run crown. He clocked 10.43 seconds to settle for a silver medal.

With Capellan, de Guzman, Wong, Louie and Cray's achievements, the Filipinos’ golden haul was jacked up to eight, thanks to previous gold-medal winners like marathoner Mary Joy Tabal of athletics and Nikko Huelgas and Kim Mangrobang of triathlon.

As of 6:00 pm, 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 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.

Also being waited is the result of swimming competition where Roxanne Yu and Filipino-American Nicole Oliva made it to the finals.

Yu surged to second place in the qualifying heats of women’s 200-meter breaststroke while Oliva ruled the preliminaries of women’s 100-meter backstroke, giving the Philippine contingent a ray of hope following the dismal performance of two-time Olympian Jesse Lacuna in the men’s 400-meter freestyle.

In basketball, Gilas Pilipinas are clashing with lowly Myanmar as of posting time as warm up for their battle against the Malaysians on Wednesday.

The national cagers flirted with disaster before pulling off an 81-74 victory over the Thais so coming up with convincing victories over the Burmese and Malaysians would be a major boost heading into the next round.

Perlas Pilipinas, for its part, hammered the Burmese, 123-33, which is a fitting bounce back win following a sorry 68-78 loss to the Indonesians Monday night.

Perlas hopes that the Indonesians would drop their next two assignments against Thailand and Malaysia to have a fighting chance at the top spot at the end of preliminaries.

In archery, Florante Matan and Nicole Tagle succumbed to Khairul Anuar Muhammad and Nural Aliya Ghapar of Malaysia, 16-19, in the semifinals of the mixed team recurve event at the National Sports Center Synthetic Turf Field.

With the setback, the archers wrapped up their campaign with four bronze medals – two in the compound and another two in recurve events – to fare a little better than the one silver and three bronze-medal finish it had in the previous SEA Games in Singapore.

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