World-class pole vaulter EJ Obiena retained the gold medal in record-breaking fashion Saturday night while the Philippine triathlon team completed a golden sweep in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.
Obiena, ranked No. 6 in the world, cleared 5.46 meters effortlessly to secure the gold medal and eclipse his previous SEA Games record of 5.45m he made at the 2019 edition.
The 26-year-old attempted to shatter his own Asian mark of 5.93m by trying to clear 5.94m, but failed.
Obiena’s teammate, Hokket Delos Santos, made it a 1-2 finish for Team PH after bagging the silver medal with 5.00m.
“I felt relieved, to be honest. Happy, as well. I came here as a favorite and finally delivered. Pressure is a privilege,” Obiena said.
Meanwhile, Fil-Spaniard Fer Casares and Kim Mangrobang ruled the men’s and women’s individual races in triathlon.
Casares clocked the winning time of 1 hour, 56 minutes and 57 seconds while Mangrobang retained her title with a time of 2:13:31.
It was a 1-2 finish in the men’s individual with Kim Remolino finishing behind Casares in 1:59:16, while debuting Raven Alcoseba settled for the women’s bronze in 2:18:30.
“I couldn’t be happier with my performance. It’s an honor to win the gold medal for the country,” said Casares.
Mangrobang guns for a second gold medal when she competes in duathlon Sunday with Alex Ganzon Gumaran, while John Chicano joins forces with Raymund Torio in the men’s side.
So far, the country now has 10 gold, 15 silver and 16 bronze medals as of this writing.
In fencing, Samantha Catantan outplayed Singapore’s Maxine Wong, 14-12, to capture the women’s foil gold medal.
The 20-year-old, who eclipsed her bronze medal finish at the 2019 edition, previously toppled Thailand’s Chayantphat Shinnakerdchoke, 15-4, in the semifinal.
Noelito Jose Jr., meanwhile, lost to Vietnam’s Nhat Nguyen Tien, 15-11, to grab the silver medal in the men’s epee.
In wushu, Agatha Wong settled for the silver medal in women’s taolu taijiquan with 9.69 points, while Jones Llabres Inso got his second medal – this time, bronze – in the men’s taolu taijijian with 9.70 points.
National rowers ended their campaign without a gold medal after Joanie Delgaco captured the silver in women’s single sculls in 8:31.487 and Cris Nievarez managed the bronze in the men’s lightweight single sculls in 7:35.741.
Overall, the PH rowing team finished with two silvers and six bronzes – a far cry from its three-gold, one-bronze haul at the 2019 edition.
Gilas Pilipinas, however, suffered a huge blow after Thailand dethroned its women’s squad, 21-14, in the semifinal of 3×3 basketball.
The Filipinas only landed fourth after losing to Indonesia, 16-10, in the battle for bronze.
The men’s team also failed to advance to the final and defend its crown after losing to Thailand, 21-17, in the semis.
Five swimmers are also competing for the gold in the ongoing final events after the morning preliminary heats.
They include Chloe Isleta (women’s 200-meter individual medley), Jerard Jacinto (men’s 100m backstroke), Miranda Renner (women’s 100m freestyle), Jonathan Cook (men’s 100m breaststroke), and Chloe Daos (women’s 200m butterfly).
In golf, Lois Kaye Go fought back with a three-under 69 while Mafy Singson bounced back with a 70 as the Filipinas moved into position for at least a bronze in the individual competitions.
At the Quang Ninh Gymnasium, the men’s volleyball team stumbled on its first assignment with a stunning 25-21, 24-26, 30-38, 29-27 defeat to Cambodia.
The Filipinos fought back from a slow start by escaping a close second-set encounter anchored on Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, but couldn’t stop the vastly improved attacks of the Cambodians in the crunch.
The PH team faces a must-win situation against Thailand on Monday to advance to the next phase.
Its women’s crew was also sent crashing back to earth after a 251-15, 25-13, 25-14 beating from perennial champion Thailand.
The PH squad of Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago and Mylene Paat couldn’t match the intensity of the Thais to even their win-loss record to 1-1 following a three-set win over Malaysia Friday.
Meanwhile, Carlos Yulo returns to action Sunday when he competes in the apparatus final.
The two-time world champion hopes to add more mints after winning the individual all-around gold and the team event silver Friday.