Philippines, 29 Feb 2024
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SEA Games Feature: From Day 1 of action, host Philippines had taken command

The 30th edition of the Southeast Asian Games the country is hosting that started last November 30 reached its halfway mark on Friday and by the looks of things, host Philippines is on the way to clinching its second overall championship it first won 14 years ago in 2005.

After five days of hostilities, the Filipino athletes, who their detractors diagnosed as ill-prepared and incapable of vaulting back from the sixth place grave their predecessors dug themselves in in the 29th staging of the biennial meet in Kuala Lumpur, started like a house on fire digging 23 gold medals in Day 1 to catapult themselves up at the top of the standing they never relinquished since.

Halfway through the Games held in separate parts of Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and to as far as La Union in Northern Luzon, they amassed a total 70 gold medals, 41 more than what their closest pursuers, the Vietnamese, could muster.

Yes, the Filipino athletes’ 41 gold medal difference over the Vietnamese looked unreachable and safe, far for even the overall title defender Malaysia could overhaul.

Thanks to Pinoy performers representing seldom mentioned dance sports, who helped the national delegation racked out 23 gold medals on Day 1 alone with 10 of their own two Sundays ago at Royce Hotel ballroom in Subic.

That came as the most ferocious show of force by any contingent in any day and in any edition and at any opening day of action at that.

That came, too, as more devastating than the 2005 delegation’s 20-gold harvest in the second day of hostilities 14 years ago that served as cushion to the country’s coronation following eight days of fighting for supremacy that produced a total 113 gold medals.

A few days later following that gold rush of the Filipino dancers, it was the practitioners of the Filipino indigenous game arnis to show their wares at the Angeles University Foundation gymnasium in Pampanga where they mesmerized their rivals and spectators alike by scooping up 14 gold medals.

At the end of the day, the Filipino athletes were standing 10-feet tall at the victory podium where the arnis aces leading in the gold medal rush with 14, dance sports, 10; wushu, 7; triathlon, and obstacle course 4 each;

Cycling, 3; basketball, gymnastics, modern pentathlon, sepak takraw, sambo, shooting, skateboarding and weightlifting, 2 each; and athletics, fencing, golf, squash and swimming 1, each.

Some of the highlights of the first five days of play: world gymnastics champion Carlos Edriel Yulo and wushu’s pretty ace Agatha Wong became the first two athletes to scoop up a pair of individual gold medals each;

Rio de Janeiro Olympic silver medalists in weightlifting Hidilyn Diaz finally ending her long years drought by winning her first; and Fil-Am James Deiparine ended the Philippines’ 10-year thirst for a gold medal in swimming after ruling the the 100-meter breaststroke held at Aquatics Center, New Clark City, Capas, Tarlac.

A day before the first gold medal was won, the Games opened in a grandiose Olympic-style ceremonies at the cavernous 55-seat Philippine Arena, a first such a rite was held indoor in the 60-year history of the conclave that started as the SEA Peninsular Games in 1959 before its name was change to the present SEA Games.

All the 40 or so venues feared not to be completed on time were all finished at the opening, proof that reports circulated before the Games commenced were all “fake news.”

Foreign athletes have been getting 24-hour dining treat in all billeting places and competition sites belying, too, earlier reports of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committees inefficiency on the matter of accommodations played in both social and mainstream media.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.

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