KUALA LUMPUR. – Two gymnasts, a wushu artist and a fencer delivered gold gold medals on Tuesday, fuelling the Philippine campaign midway through the 29th Southeast Asian Games here.
Veteran Reyland Capellan and rising star Kaitlin de Guzman reigned supreme in their respective events in the gymnastics competition at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Center here.
Capellan, 23, a gold medalist in the Singapore SEA Games, overcame a faulty start to finish with 13.950 points en route to winning the men’s floor exercise event. He bested Zul Bahrin Bin Mat Asri of Malaysia and Tikumporn Surintornta of Thailand, who registered 13.750 and 13.6700 points to settle for the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Capellan said he was so tense at the start and lost his balance. When he regained his composure, he performed his routine like it was a walk in the park.
“I’m so happy that I am able to contribute to the gold-medal production of the Philippines,” said Capellan, a former member of the Centro Escolar University pep squad who also campaigned in the World Artistic Gymnastics in Glasgow two years ago.
“I was a little nervous at the start that’s why I lost my balance and had a bad landing. But it’s okay; at least I made up for that missed opportunity in the latter part of my routine.”
An hour later, it was the 17-year old De Guzman’s turn to deliver, scoring 12.875 points to rule the uneven bars and end the country’s 20-year gold-medal drought in the women’s artistic gymnastics event. Tracie Ang of Malaysia settled for the silver medal with 12.550 points while Rifda Irfanaluthfi of Indonesia grabbed the bronze medal with 12.075 points.
“I am so happy now that I won a gold medal representing the Philippines,” said De Guzman, a senior at Epic Charter Home School in Dallas, Texas.
De Guzman’s feat didn’t come as a surprise. Her mother, Cintamoni Dela Cruz, ruled the same event in the 1995 SEA Games in Chiang Mai and was a member of the squad that emerged with a bronze medal in team event in the Jakarta SEA Games in 1997.
Dela Cruz said they’ve been praying for her daughter to advance to the finals since this is just her first try in the biennial meet despite competing in the United States where she is a member of the Metroplex Gymnastics in Texas.
“We were not expecting her to win (the gold medal) since this is just her first SEA Games,” said the elder Dela Cruz. “All we were hoping is for her to qualify to the finals. This victory is a major surprise. That’s why we’re so happy with this achievement.”
Also emerging with a gold medal on a day where 45 gold medals were disputed were wushu artist Agatha Won and fencer Brennan Wayne Louie.
Wong, who already has a silver medal under her name, added a gold for good measure after she scored 9.66 points to rule the women’s taijiquan event. Basma Lachkar of Brunei settled for silver with 9.54 points while Ho Lin Ying of Singapore grabbed the bronze with 9.44 points.
The Filipino-American Louie, a gold medalist in the Asean Championship humbled clobbered compatriot Nathaniel Perez in the gold-medal match of men’s foil event in fencing. Perez, a University of the East standout, settled for the silver together with Hanniel Abella, who lost to Nguyen Thi Hoa of Vietnam in the women’s individual epee competition.
With various finals events set later in the night, the Filipinos’ golden haul stood at seven, counting the gold medal wins of marathoner Mary Joy Tabal and triathletes Nikko Huelgas and Kim Mangrobang.
The Philippines can still look forward to gold medals in various fronts like athletics, karate, judo and boxing, where Mario Fernandez, Eumir Felix Marcial and John Marvin Tupaz will be competing for the crown.
In basketball, Gilas Pilipinas whipped lowly Myanmar and geared up for its battle with Malaysian on Wednesday.
Perlas Pilipinas hammered the Burmese 123-33, a fitting bounce back after a sorry 68-78 loss to the Indonesians Monday night.