Pencak silat delivers lone gold for Team PH

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KUALA LUMPUR—The Philippines scored a surprise victory in pencak silat, but it failed to serve as a balm to sooth the wounds of an ailing Philippine team headed into final stretch of the 29th Southeast Asian Games here.

A rookie form Capiz in Dines Dumaan came up with an impressive win as he battered Firman of Indonesia, 4-1, to capture the gold medal in the men’s tanding putra class A 45-50 kg event of the pencak competition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center.

The 22-year-old Dumaan was hit by a crisp attack by the aggressive Indonesian, but he refused to back off. Instead, he took him down thrice en route to the stunning victory that serves as the Filipinos’ first gold medal in pencak silat since the 2005 Manila SEA Games.

“I got dizzy when I got hit. I really had no idea if I could continue fighting,” said Dumaan, who claimed the bronze medal in the 5th Asian Beach Games and fourth place in the 17th World Pencak Silat Championship last year to gain a chance to compete in the biennial meet.

“But I didn’t lose hope. I didn’t want to quit and lose the chance of winning the gold medal for the country,” he said.

Also emerging victorious for the national pencak silat squad were Princesslyn Enopia, Rickrod Ortega and Jefferson Rhey Loon, who bagged the bronze medal in their respective events.

Dines Dumaan of the Philippines is shown after winning the gold medal in the men’s tanding putra class A 45-50 kg division of the 29th Southeast Asian Games pencak silat competition Tuesday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center in Kuala Lumpur. PSC Media

Enopia finished third in the women’s tanding Class A division, while Ortega and Loon placed third in the men’s tanding Class C 55-60 kg and men’s tanding Class D 60-65 kg category, respectively.

Dumaan’s gold was the lone ray of sunshine in the Philippines’ gloomy campaign in the penultimate day of this 11-nation competition.

Its top player and flag-bearer —Rio de Janeiro Olympics campaigner Kirstie Elaine Alora— fared below expectations as she suffered a heart-breaking setback to a very familiar foe in Sorn Seavmey of Cambodia in the taekwondo competition.

A two-time SEA Games gold medalist, Alora’s prowess was no match to the height, length and experience of the 6-foot Cambodian as she hammered a 13-6 victory to snatch the gold medal in the women’s -73 kg class.

Prior to that, another promising jin in Francis Aaron Agojo was shown the door and settled for bronze when he succumbed to Nguyen Van Duy of Vietnam in the semifinals of the men’s -63 kg match.  

Alora said she did her best, but the breaks simply didn’t roll her way.

“Siguro kulang po ako sa follow-ups. But it’s a good fight and I did my best,” said Alora, who also questioned some of the referees’ decision.

Kirstie Elaine Alora of the Philippines (red) competes against Sorn Seavmey of Cambodia (blue) in the finals of the women’s -73 kg category of the 29th Southeast Asian Games competition Tuesday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center. Alora lost, 6-13. PSC Media

“I don’t know with the officiating, but in the first and second rounds, I know that I was leading. But I had about five gamjeoms (penalties) and those did not help me.”

Alora’s setback perfectly underscores the Philippines’ frustrations.

So far, the country has only 24 gold medals, less than half of the 50 gold medals promised by chief of mission Cynthia Carrion at the eve of the Philippine delegation’s departure for this bustling Malaysian capital.

Its total production of 24 gold, 31 silver and 61 bronze medals is below than the 29 gold medals it won in the Myanmar and Singapore editions of the SEA Games and slightly above its worst finish of 20 gold medals in the Brunei edition in 1999 where only 233 gold medals in 21 sports were disputed.

This development would surely put tremendous pressure on the athletes, coaches and sports officials as they formally brace for the country’s hosting in 2019 when the biennial meet formally closes on Wednesday.

There will be no grand performance after the Philippine Olympic Committee shot down the idea and, instead, promised to return the P8.1-million check forwarded by the sponsor, the Department of Tourism.

But POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco will still receive the symbolic SEA Games Federation council flag from outgoing president HRM Yam Tunku Sri Imran before handing it over to Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano, who will take the lead in organizing the country’s first hosting since 2005.

Malaysia was the runaway champion with 129 gold, 84 silver and 78 bronze medals while Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia grabbed the second, third, fourth and fifth spots with 62, 58, 55 36 gold medals, respectively.

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