Yulo leads golden surge; Pinoys jostle with Thailand for 2nd


Reigning world champion Carlos Yulo scored two more stirring triumphs Sunday, leading an eight-gold medal haul as the Philippines jostled with Thailand for second overall in the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games here.

Returning to the Quan Ngua Sports Palace where he was crowned the all-around champion last Friday, Yulo, 22, topped the floor exercise, the event where he emerged as world champion in 2019, and followed up his electrifying performance by scoring an impressive victory in the rings.

Gymnastics proved to be a gold mine as Fil-American Aleah Finnegan added the women’s vault gold to Team Philippines’ harvest, scoring her second victory after leading the women’s squad to the team title last Saturday, on top of a silver in the women’s all-around.

Also scoring crucial gold medal wins were Kim Mangrobang who added the women’s duathlon title to her victory in the triathlon last Saturday; wushu practitioners Agatha Wong and Arnel Mandal; Fil-Am William Morrison in the shot put; and the dancesport tandem of Stephanie Sabalo de Leon and Michael Angelo Marquez in the Latin dance.

The eight-gold haul, which matched the team’s output last Saturday, jacked up the country’s total to 20, the same output of Thailand so far, but the Filipinos had more silver medals.

Host Vietnam moved out of reach with a haul of 58-41-41, with the Philippines having harvested 20-22-39, Thailand 20-20-37, Indonesia 17-26-16, and Malaysia completing the top five with 16-11-29.

“I’m very happy, I didn’t expect to win. But I’m proud of my performance,” said Yulo, who scored 15.200 in the floor exercise and 14.400 in the rings.

He returns to action Monday, competing in the vault, where he is the current world champion; high bar and parallel bar.

Finnegan, a 19-year-old Missouri native who was a member of the US national team that emerged victorious in the Pan American Games in 2019, scored 13.133 in the vault, foiling the golden bid of hometown bet of Nguyen Thi Quynh Nhu who settled for the silver with 13.033.

She vies in the floor exercise and balance beam on Monday in the last day of artistic gymnastics action, which has so far propped up the Philippine campaign with five gold and two silver medals.

Less than 24 hours after winning her third straight SEA Games triathlon crown, Mangrobang, 30, became the first Pinoy athlete here to capture back-to-back gold medals, ruling the women’s duathlon at the Tuan Chau Peninsula in 2:13.12.

Wong, who lost her stranglehold in wushu’s taijiquan event last Saturday, bounced back with a big victory in the taijijian event, scoring 9.71 points to frustrate two Vietnamese entries at the Cau Giay Gymnasium.

Later in the day, Arnel Mandal made it a double celebration for the Philippines, winning the wushu team’s second gold by beating Laksmana Pandu Pratama of Indonesia in the finals of the men’s 56kg sanda 2-0 to join Wong, a 19-year-old beauty whose smile can melt hearts, on the podium.

Morrison, 25, back to defend the title he won in 2019 in the Philippines, heaved the heavy metal ball to 18.14 meters, way off his former winning throw of 18.38, but way ahead of the Thai second placer who had a throw of 17.32m and the Malaysian bronze winner who had 17.20m.

While the athletics contingent celebrated the country’s second gold at the My Dinh National Stadium, which came a day after world-class Ernest John Obiena topped the pole vault with a new SEA Games mark of 5.46 meters, there was concern all around as Philippine record holder John Albert Mantua, the country’s second entry in the shot put, injured his right leg after his fifth throw.

Mantua was brought out of the field on a stretcher and was brought to a hospital with a suspected severe leg sprain.

The victory of De Leon and Marquez in the Latin dance led to one gold, three silver and two bronze production by the country’s dancesport bets.

“I prepared very well in two events, that’s why I’m really happy with the result. I focused on my recovery and my conditioning coach, Annie Brown, did a beautiful job,” said Mangrobang, who trained extensively with the national team in Portugal.

With his mother Marlene watching from the sidelines, Morrison set the pace as early as his second heave of 17.84 meters. For good measure, he slowly improved his throws to 17.97 and then at 18.14 to completely obliterate the field, which included eventual runner-up Jakkapat Noisri of Thailand (17.32) Thailand and third placer Malaysia’s Muhammad Ziyad Bin Zolkefli (17.20).

The athletics team also came up with a silver, courtesy of Janry Ubas who leapt 7.73 meters in the men’s long jump.

Source: Philippines News Agency