Of the Filipino athletes who reached the dream of winning a SEA Games gold medal, Anthony Trenten Beram shines the brightest.
The 21 year old track star reached his dream twice.
Beram first burned the tracks of the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in the men’s 200 meter run. He followed this up with another scintillating performance in the 400 meter run to emerge as the only Filipino double gold medalist of the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
Hurdles Eric Shauwn Cray also gave Team Philippines moment of glory. The 29 year old Fil-Am won the gold in the men’s 400 meter hurdles. One hour after getting his first medal of the 29th SEA Games, Cray returned to the tracks to defend his 100-meter dash crown. With barely an hour of rest after running the energy-sapping 400-m hurdles, the still tired Cray faded in the last ten meters and settled for the bronze.
Meanwhile, Filipino ironman Aries Toledo was crowned King of Kuala Lumpur SEA Games Athletics. The 24-year old Toledo topped the tough and taxing men’s Decathlon – a ten event contest consisting of running, throwing and jumping.
Mary Joy Tabal secured her gold medal in the women’s marathon. The 28- year old Cebuana runner was a cut above the rest – she crossed the finish line more than 7 minutes ahead of the silver medalist.
The Filipino triathletes were also simply too good for the rest of the competitors – they finished first and second in both the men’s and the women’s contests.
After the 1.5-kilometer swim leg, 40-kilometer cycling leg and the 10-kilometer run, defending champion Nikko Bryan Huelgas waltzed home solo to claim the gold. Compatriot John Leerams Chicano checked in second for the silver.
In the women’s triathlon, the two Filipina entries, friends in real life but rivals in sports, wrote the same narrative but with a different ending from the story they inscribed in the 2015 SEA Games held in Singapore.
Singapore silver medalist Marion Kim Mangrobang gets to the throne this time with then gold medalist Marie Claire Adorna sliding this time to second for the silver.
It was also a gold-silver finish for Team Philippines in the men’s individual foil event of fencing. Teammates Brennan Wayne Louie and Nathaniel Perez found themselves facing each other on the piste to fight it out for the gold medal. A very close duel it was with Louie edging Perez 15 to 14.
Gymnastics contributed two golds too.
One was courtesy Kaitlin de Guzman in the the uneven bars. The 17 year-old Kaitlin also got silver in the floor exercise and a bronze in the balance beam.
The other gymnastics gold was won by Reylan Capellan in the men’s floor exercise. The 24-year old Capellan was also the gold medalist in the event the last time the Games was held in 2015 in Singapore
Gold was the reward reaped by Wushu artist Agatha Chrystenzen Wong for her awesome performance in the compulsory taijiquan. The 19-year old earlier finished runner-up for the silver in the optional taijijian.
As expected, boxing delivered the goods – two gold medals. Marvin John Nobel Tupas was impressive with his first round Referee-Stopped-Contest (RSC) win in the finals of the lightheavyweight division. The 21-second victory fashioned out by the Filipino slugger is the fastest boxing finals in the history of the SEA Games.
Slugger Eumir Felix Marcial, meanwhile, used his all-around skill to eke out a points decision in the finals of the middleweight division.
Filipino Judokas collected two golds too. Kiyomi Watanabe emerged triumphant in the women’s 57 kilogram category. It was the third straight SEA Games gold for Watanabe following her golden successes in the 2013 Myanmar Games and the 2015 Singapore Games.
Mariya Takahashi was also victorious in the women’s 60 kilogram division. The 16 year old Filipina judoka pinned her 27 year old Thai opponent to the tatami in the finals to win the gold.
Ice hockey, one of four events played for the first time in the SEA Games, was topped by Team Philippines by edging Team Thailand in the finals 5 to 4.
Our lawn balls players hit the golden jackpot too. The quartet of Ronald Lising, Curte Robert Guarin, Emmanuel Portacio and Leoncio Carreon demolished Thailand in the finals.
As expected, the Philippines won the gold in the sport closest to the hearts of majority of Filipinos – men’s basketball. Called Gilas Pilipinas, the Pinoy dribblers routed Thailand in the finals… 95 to 55. The Gilas Pilipinas reached the gold medal match without dropping a game – four wins in four. It was the 12 straight SEA Games men’s basketball title for the Philippines.
In Billiards, it was a gold-silver finish for the Philippines in women’s nine ball pool singles. Chezca Centeno came from behind to get the gold at the expense of teammate Rubelin Amit ….. 7 racks to 6.
The men’s nine ball singles gold was also claimed by a Filipino cue artist. Recently crowned World Games champion Carlo Biado overwhelmed the challenge of a Vietnamese contender.
Taekwondo won a couple of golds too. In pomsae, the trio of Rodolfo Reyes and brothers Dustin Jacob and Raphael Enrico Mella got the nod of the judges – giving them more than enough points to be on the top rung of the podium
And in the kyorugi event, taekwondo-jin Samuel Thomas Morison easily defended his title in the lightweight category by overcoming Ardian Dinggo of Indonesia.
Equestrian contributed a gold to the Philippine campaign in Kuala Lumpur. Colin John Syquia atop Adventure E was second best after the second round of the Individual show jumping event. In the jump off, Syquia and Adventure E shifted to high gear to snatch the gold.
For the first time in 12 years, Team Philippines snatched a gold medal in Pencak Silat. It was won by Dines Dumaan in the Tanding Class A (45-50 kgs). The 22-year old Dumaan beat Firman of Indonesia in the gold medal match.
Though not all came up with golden results, all the Filipino athletes that saw action in the different sporting arenas of Malaysia are sporting heroes all — they gave their best and they competed cleanly and fairly.