Team Philippines on Tuesday raked in 11 more gold medals to formally clinch the 30th Southeast Asian Games’ overall championship described by a top local sports official as “sweet surprise”.
The host country was actually unthreatened on top of the medal tally from start to finish of the 10-day biennial meet, duplicating its first overall title in 2005.
The Philippines garnered a total of 383 medals – 149 golds, 116 silvers and 118 bronzes, surpassing the 112 gold, 85 silver and 92 bronze medals it won in the 2005 Manila meet.
“We were all hoping and praying for this, but it is still a sweet surprise now that it is actually happening. I am so proud of our athletes. All of them deserve our respect and love,” said Philippine Sports Commission chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez in a statement.
Ramirez, also chef de mission of the Team Philippines, said members of the triumphant Team Philippines will go to Malacañang on December 18 to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte and to receive their incentives.
Under Republic Act 10699, the winners of SEA Games stand to receive PHP300,000 for gold, PHP1500,000 for silver and PHP60,000 for bronze.
The Philippine Olympic Committee earlier said it will give similar amount to the gold, silver and bronze medalists of the SEA Games.
“This is a result of all the sacrifice and hard work of everyone who pushed for chances at victory,” Ramirez said. “This victory is very sweet given the many difficulties we had to face. This win proves that we can achieve a lot when we come together united as one team.”
The Gilas Pilipinas, as expected, secured the country’s 18th basketball title in 20 finals appearances via sweep while the women’s team captured its first ever title with both squads beating rivals from Thailand. The Filipino cagers also swept both the men’s and women’s 3×3 basketball golds.
In men’s volleyball, the Filipino spikers succumbed to Indonesia in three straight sets but still emerged proud as they played in their first finals appearance in 42 years.
Other gold winners for the Philippines in the final day of competitions are the billiards tandem of Rubelin Amit and Centeno (9-ball pool doubles), men’s soft tennis team, shooting trap team, Caviar Napoleon Acampado (esports), jiujitsu artists Annie Ramirez (62kg) and Adrian Guggenheim (77kg), and Gina Iniong and Jean Claude Saclag who ruled the kickboxing’s 55kg kick light and 63.5kg low events, respectively.
Eric Shauwn Cray (400m hurdles) and Aries Toledo (decathlon) also snatched two more golds to bring the country’s total athletics golds to 11 with eight silvers and eight bronzes at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium in Capas, Tarlac.
After athletics, Arnis is the next top medal contributor for the Team Philippines, winning 14 golds, 4 silvers and 2 bronzes followed by dancesports with 10 golds and two silvers; and, taekwondo with 8 golds, 9 silvers and 4 bronzes.
The Philippines regained the dominance in boxing with a total of 7 golds with 3 silvers and 2 bronzes while skateboarding, led by Asian Games gold medalist Margielyn Didal, pocketed 6 golds, 4 silvers and a bronze, while obstacle course has 6 golds, 3 silvers and one bronze.
James Deiparine awarded the Philippines its first gold medal in swimming in 10 years after ruling the 100-meter breaststroke in record fashion.
Aside from Didal, other top athletes who lived up to expectation are world gymnast champion Carlos Edriel Yulo who finally won not one but two golds and five silvers in the SEA Games.
Olympic-bound EJ Obiena also came out with a record-breaking victory in pole vault while Olympian Hidilyn Diaz pulled out a golden performance.
Vietnam, the next host of the SEA Games, rallied in the final two days of competitions to finished second with 95 golds, 85 silvers and 103 bronzes followed by Thailand with 91-101-122 and Indonesia with 72-82-111 tally.
Malaysia, the 2017 overall champion, settled for fifth place with 55-58-71 performance Singapore collected 53 golds, 46 silvers and 69 silvers in sixth spot.
Myanmar and Cambodia had four golds each but the former finished seventh with superior silvers (18) and bronzes (50) while the Cambodian athletes brought home six silvers and 36 bronzes followed by Brunei (2-5-27).
Soukan Taipanyavong snatched Laos’ lone gold medal in the final day of action after winning the kickboxing’s 60kg low kick. Laos has also five silvers and 27 bronzes.
Despite wishes from local netizens, Timor-Leste went home without gold but an emotional Rosa Luisa Dos Santos won the hearts of the Filipinos after bagging a silver medal in taekwondo to add to her country’s five bronzes.
The Games’ closing ceremony will be held at the newly-built New Clark City Athletics Stadium in Tarlac on Wednesday. (Jelly Musico, PNA)