MANILA — Hidilyn Diaz emerged as the star of the show for Team Philippines on Monday when she finally bagged her first Southeast Asian Games gold with a dominant performance in women’s weightlifting.
Diaz, 28, a silver medalist in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics, lifted a total of 211kg in topping the women’s 55kg division before an animated crowd at the newly-renovated Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Diaz added her breakthrough SEA Games gold to her growing collection of medals that also include gold in the Asian Games and a bronze in the world championship.
“Thank you for very much for the support,” Diaz told the television cameras going to the medal podium.
She competed in the 2007, 2011 and 2013 editions of the SEA Games and brought home two silver medals and a bronze. In the 2017 biennial meet, weightlifting was scrapped by host Malaysia.
The 28-year-old weightlifting icon is hoping to book another ticket in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in the upcoming qualifying tournaments.
Meanwhile, Pencak Silat delivered its maiden gold for the Philippines after Edmar Tacuel topped the men’s seni tunggal event at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center.
The 20-year old from Tubongan, Iloilo impressed the judges in his first-ever biennial meet stint with 470 points, edging Muhammad Iqbal Bin Abdul Rahman of Singapore who bagged the silver with 461 points and bronze finisher Dino Bima Sulistianto who settled for 460 points.
Tacuel, sixth of the seven children of a farmer and a housekeeper, couldn’t contain his emotion after adding to the country’s gold harvest.
“Happy ako na nakakuha ako ng gold medal (I’m so happy that I won gold medal),” he said.
Tacuel bared that his knowledge in arnis — his first sport since 2012 — helped him big jumping into pencak silat. He became part of the national team in April this year then straightly went to rigorous training in Singapore and Thailand.
Also in Subic, Asian elite champion Monica Torres sustained her energy despite an upset stomach to clinch the women’s duathlon at the Subic Bay Boardwalk.
Torres ruled the 10km run-40km bike-5km run after finishing in two hours, eight minutes and 44 seconds.
The three-time Powerman Asia Duathlon Champion was followed by Pareeya Sonsem of Thailand, who clocked 2:11:18, while Thi Phuong Trinh Nguyen of Vietnam delivered the first duathlon medal for her country by pocketing the bronze medal in 2:14:20.
Earlier, a disappointed Joey Delos Reyes finished second with a time of 1:53:05 for the silver medal in the men’s side.
Jauhari Johan gave Indonesia its second gold after ruling the grueling 10km run-40km bike-5km run in one hour, 52 minutes, and 51 seconds. (PR)