Swimming gold rush for PH in Asean tourney

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SINGAPORE—Filipino tankers produced another scintillating performance at the pool as they collected four more gold medals in the 9th Asean School Games Sunday at the Singapore Sports School.

Following their fiery start on opening day of competition Saturday when they won two golds, the swimmers were even deadlier this time with four  to raise their total to six in the annual event aimed at promoting Asean solidarity through school sports.

Spearheading the second-day gold rush were Maurice Sacho Ilustre and Filipino-British tanker Bhay Maitland Newberry.

The 17-year-old Ilustre, a standout De La Salle Zobel in Muntinlupa City, lived up to his billing as one of the rising swimming stars in the country by topping the boys’ 100-meter freestyle and 100m butterfly.

Ilustre, also the secondary division’s most valuable player in the 2017 Palarong Pambansa, clocked 55.97 seconds in capturing the boys’ 100m butterfly gold over Singaporean rival Rhys Jun Kai NG (56.36) and Indonesian Damanik Alexander (56.41), who took the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Maurice Sacho Ilustre

His astonishing ASG campaign so far didn’t end there as Ilustre collared his second gold for the day, winning the boys’ 200-m freestyle event. He clocked 1:53.21 in besting Ahmad Fathoni Erick of Indonesia (1:56.13) and Tsien Ee Tan (1:56.29) of Malaysia.

Erick and Tan settled for silver and bronze, respectively.

Ilustre, in an interview at the sidelines of the swimming competition, said standing at the victory stand gave him goosebumps.

“Sobrang saya po talaga. Iba talaga ang feeling kapag pinapatugtog ang ating national anthem during victory ceremony,” he said.

He learned the ropes of the sport when he was four-years-old from his dad, Bong.

Competing in his first international competition, Ilustre had the privilege to train in the USA for four weeks along with other Filipino tankers courtesy of the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Sports Institute.

“Thankful po ako kay Philippine Swimming Inc. secretary-general Lani Velasco and PSC-PSI for the opportunity to train abroad,” Ilustre said.

It can be recalled that Ilustre also ruled the boys’ 100-meter freestyle on the first day of the competition over Mikkel Jun Jie Lee (52.44) and Samuel Shaojun, both from Singapore (53.07). Lee and Shaujon settled for the silver and bronze, respectively.

Not to be outdone, Newberry scored her second gold medal in the Games after winning the girls’ 100-m backstroke event.

Newberry, 14, and competing for the first time in the ASEAN Schools Games, clocked 1:05.42, in beating Indonesian tankers Novita Lestari Dewi (1:06.67) and Kemala Fathihia Sofie (1:07.02).

Newberry, in a separate interview, bared she wants to be an inspiration to her fellow Filipino athletes.

“It feels good especially that I get to inspire other athletes to train hard,” she said.

The day’s fourth gold medal in swimming for Team Philippines was snatched by Jerard Dominic Jacinto.

Jacinto ended up with same winning time of 59.60 seconds in the boys’ 100-m backstroke to share the gold with Setyawan Daniel of Indonesia. Sridilok Passakorn of Thailand took the bronze.

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