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SEA Games: Athletics jazzes up PH medal tally

Overall championship in the bag for Team Philippines -- POC chief Bambol Tolentino

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By Nick Giongco

CAPAS, Tarlac—With Philippines already assured of the overall crown, athletics lit up the medal tally with four gold medals Sunday as competitions in the 30th Southeast Asian Games remained intense even as the other countries shore up their bid for the next-best finish.

Natalie Uy clears the bar and posts a record-setting 4.25 meters in women's pole vault in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the New Clark City Athletic Stadium in Capas, Tarlac, Dec. 8, 2019. (MB Photo / Mark Balmores / Captured using Sony A9 with 200-600mm lens)

Natalie Uy clears the bar and posts a record-setting 4.25 meters in women’s pole vault in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the New Clark City Athletic Stadium in Capas, Tarlac, Dec. 8, 2019. (MB Photo / Mark Balmores / Captured using Sony A9 with 200-600mm lens)

With only three days remaining, the Philippines continues to turn almost every front a playground for its athletes as the winning ways rubbed off on just about everyone who fought for a shot at winning the gold.

Crowd-pleasing pole vaulter Natalie Uy, heptathlete Sarah Dequinan, shot-putter William Morrison and the 4×100 mixed relay squad prevented a shutout for Philippine track and field following the misfortune that
befell sprinters Eric Cray and Kristina Knott at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium.

William Morrison III breaks shot put record to bag the gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games. (Nick Giongco)

William Morrison III breaks shot put record to bag the gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games. (Nick Giongco)

Uy, a prized-find from Ohio, did 4.25 meters to win the gold medal, relegating defending champion Chayanesa Chomchuendee of Thailand to the silver as she could only do 4.10. The bronze went to another Thai, who posted 4.00.

“That’s what I came to do here,” said Uy, whose father is Filipino, when asked if she had badly wanted not only to win but shatter the SEAG mark as well.

Last March, Uy came to the country to formalize her inclusion to the national team and didn’t disappoint, breaking Deborah Samson’s 11-year-old record during the Philippine National Open in Ilagan, Isabela.

The burly Morrison hardly flexed his muscles in resetting the shotput mark of 17. 74 of Chatchawal Polyiam of Thailand that was established in the 2011 Palembang SEAG.

Morrison, who has a personal-best of 20.22, did 18.38 to claim the gold. Malaysia (17.03) and Thailand (16.40) wound up second and third, respectively.

The day began as if the hometown bets were bound to fare badly when Cray got disqualified for jumping the gun in the heats of the 100-meters.

Kristina Marie Knott, left, of the Philippines and Vietnam's Tu Chinh Le race to the finish line of the women's 100m final at the New Clark City's Athletic Stadium in Tarlac. Tu Chinh Le bags the gold while Knott settles for silver. (MB Photo / Mark Balmores / Captured using Sony A9 with 200-600mm lens)

Kristina Marie Knott, left, of the Philippines and Vietnam’s Tu Chinh Le race to the finish line of the women’s 100m final at the New Clark City’s Athletic Stadium in Tarlac. Tu Chinh Le bags the gold while Knott settles for silver. (MB Photo / Mark Balmores / Captured using Sony A9 with 200-600mm lens)

Then Knott, who was the heavy favorite also in the women’s century dash, settled for the silver as defending champion Tu Chin Le of Vietnam zoomed to the finish with a clocking of 11.54 seconds.

Knott, who was hoping to add the 200 to his 100 won on Saturday, timed in at 11.55.

Third place went to Veronica Shanti of Singapore, who submitted a time of 11.66.

In claiming the title of track and field’s toughest, Dequinan got 5,101 points while Norliyana Kamaruddin of Malaysia (4,906) got the silver and Sunisa Khotseemueang of Thailand (4,730) the bronze.

To cap the night of golden performances, the inaugural 4×100 relay was held and Cray made up for his early-morning mishap by powering the team to victory in 41.67 seconds. Thailand and Malaysia checked in second and third, respectively.

Eloisa Luzon was the first runner and Anfernee Lopena took second before passing the baton to Knott and then to Cray for the pulsating finish that had the crowd on its feet.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino speaks at the send-off of athletes for the 30th SEA Games at the Rizal Stadium last November 13. (MB Photo / Alvin Kasiban)

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino (MB Photo / Alvin Kasiban)

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) had declared also Sunday that the race for the overall title is over and done with.

“Sealed na ‘yan (That’s our ours),” said POC president Bambol Tolentino, who was the brains behind the holding of 530 events in 56 sports.

Tolentino said the grand total by the time the curtains fall on Wednesday night will be between 120-130 gold medals for the host.

Earlier, soft tennis, rowing, softball, golf, surfing, wakeboarding, taekwondo, skateboarding, baseball and Muay accounted for 23 that was harvested during Sunday’s sizzling show by the Philippines, eclipsing the 22 won during opening day.

As of 9:30 pm, the Philippine collection of gold was 112. Indonesia is a distant second with 65 and Vietnam, third with 62.

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