Reigning Southeast Asian Games champion Arnel Mandal led the Philippines’ wushu sanda campaign while four Filipino fighters are assured of four bronze medals for the country in the 31st SEA Games at the Cau Giay Gymnasium in Hanoi, Vietnam Saturday, May 14.
Mandal, gold medalist in the 52kg division of the 2019 SEA Games, moved up in weight class and proved his worth in the 56kg event.
He replaced Francisco Solis, who ruled the 52 kg more than two years ago, as the latter settled for a bronze medal finish in the 65kg after yielding to Van Chuong Truong of host Vietnam.
Mandal prevailed over Thai foe Thongchai Huanak in the semifinal and will figure in a rematch against 2019 silver medalist Laksmana Pandu Pratama of Indonesia on Sunday, May 15.
Clemente Tagubara Jr., who ruled the 65kg division in the 2019 edition of the biennial regional meet, suffered defeat at the hands of Vietnamese opponent Nguyen Van Tai in the 70kg semifinal.
Gideon Fred Padua, former silver medalist, had the same fate and lost the chance to avenge his loss against defending champion Bui Truong Giang. Padua, in the process, settled for bronze as well.
Redemption, on the other hand, is the main theme for Vietnam as 2019 silver medalist Nguyen Thi Chinh outclassed and got back at Divine Wally, previous champion and the country’s top bet in the women’s 48kg division.
With four fighters down, Mandal is the Philippines’ lone bet to contend for the gold.