PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – For the second straight day, obstacle course racers remained perfect, leading a six-gold medal charge Sunday that kept the Philippines in the mix of things in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games here.

8 May 2023

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – For the second straight day, obstacle course racers remained perfect, leading a six-gold medal charge Sunday that kept the Philippines in the mix of things in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games here.

Putting the finishing touches to a scintillating stint in the four-day event, the men’s and women’s relay teams proved too much for the opposition, taking the last two mints to complete a four-gold sweep, further reinforcing their status as the best in the region.

With another big crowd watching at the Chroy Chavrang Convention Center Car Park, the men’s quartet of Ahgie Radan, Elias Tabac, Mervin Guarte, and Jay-ar de Castro hurdled all the obstacles in a new global standard of 24.47 seconds to beat Malaysia’s Ghalib Mohamad Azimi, Mohd Redha Rozlan, Nuur Hafis Said Alwi and Yoong Wei Theng, who clocked 25.15.

Earlier, Sandi Menchi Abahan, Mecca Cortizano, Milky Mae Tejares, and Maritess Nocyao reigned supreme in the women’s category with a world mark of 33.73 at the expense of Indonesia’s Anggun Yolanda, Ayu Pupita, Mudji Mulyani and Rahmayuna Fadillah (35.06).

The other gold medals were delivered by reigning duathlon queen Kim Mangrobang, the women’s soft tennis squad of Bien Zoleta-Mañalac and Princess Catindig, jiu-jitsu fighter Marc Lim who finally triumphed in his third SEA Games, and karateka Jamie Lim, who bounced back from her bronze medal finish in Vietnam last year.

Mangrobang kept her crown in the 5k run, 20km bike, and 2.5k run finale at the Kep Beach Resort, Zoleta-Mañalac and Catindig completed a championship sweep capped by a 5-2 victory over Chatmanee and Napawee Jankiaw of Thailand in the women’s doubles finals, Marc Lim beat Vietnam’s Dang Dinh Tung for the men’s ne-waza nogi 69kg gold, and Jamie Lim returned to her rightful place on top of the SEA Games karate world by ruling the women’s -61kg women’s individual kumite at the Chroy Changvar Center Hall A.

The Filipinos, backed by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee, ended the day with 13 gold medals in a tie with Indonesia for second, just ahead of Vietnam which had 12.

First-time host Cambodia was on top of the heap with 25 gold, 19 silver, and 19 bronze medals, mainly through its domination of indigenous sports like kun-bokator, an ancient form of martial art; kun khmer, and vovinam.

The Filipinos also had 14 silver medals, one of them coming from the Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 men’s squads that lost 15-20 to the Cambodian team that featured three naturalized players in Brandon Peterson, Sayeed Pridgett, and Darrin Dorsey that left PSC Commissioner Fritz Gaston referring to the squad as the “US” team.

The women’s 3×3 team also lost to Vietnam 16-21 after ousting Thailand 21-19 in an emotional victory earlier.

Karate also contributed four silver medals for the day, courtesy of kumite fighters Matthew Manantan (men’s -67 kg), Ivan Agustin (-84 kg), Remon Misu (-68 kg women), and Ariane Brito (+68kg women).

But Cambodia’s bid for a Cinderella finish will be severely tested when the region’s big guns, among them the Filipinos, Thais, Indonesians, and Malaysians, press their bids in several martial arts disciplines and athletics, which get going Monday at the Morodok Techo Stadium.

Lim, the daughter of former PBA star Samboy Lim, went home with a bronze medal in Vietnam last year but regained the crown she won in 2019 when he humbled Cambodian Vann Chakriya in the title match 3-1.

“I had less (time) for social media, no Tiktok and IG (Instagram) for the last few months but now everything is okay,” Lim, now a two-time SEA Games gold medalist after ruling the 2019 edition in Manila, enthused after her impressive win.

Two of the three boxers that went into action Sunday – Rogen Ladon and Ian Clark Bautista – assured themselves of bronze medals after pounding out big wins while James Palicte bowed out of contention.

Ladon, the winner of 2019 and 2022 SEA Games gold medals overcame the hugging and holding strategy of Indonesian Ingatan Ilahi to score a 5-0 unanimous decision win and advance to the flyweight semifinals against Malaysian Muhammad Abdul Qaiyum Ariffin.

Bautista, a two-time SEA Games gold medalist, beat Van Duong Nguyen of Vietnam via a referee-stopped contest due to injury after inflicting a cut on his foe’s left eyebrow in their featherweight duel. He will face next Asri Udin of Indonesia in the semifinals.

Palicte lost to Van Ratha of Cambodia via a split decision in the light welterweight quarterfinals.