Wushu legend and med student Agatha Wong stands out on lean day for PH – rezal404

Southeast Asian Games - Wushu - Chroy Changvar Convention Center Hall A, Phnom Penh, Cambodia - May 12, 2023 Philippines' Agatha Chrystenzen Fernandez Wong celebrates winning gold in the women's Taijijian during the medal ceremony

Southeast Asian Games – Wushu – Chroy Changvar Convention Center Hall A, Phnom Penh, Cambodia – May 12, 2023 Philippines’ Agatha Chrystenzen Fernandez Wong celebrates winning gold in the women’s Taijijian during the medal ceremony REUTERS/Cindy Liu

PHNOM PENH—Agatha Wong, now a medical student and a part-time national athlete, arrived at this Cambodian capital without any expectations on what she could bring home back to Manila.

Wong then surprised herself with an unexpected triumph in a composed and steady performance that for wushu’s taolu discipline gold medal Friday in the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

“I didn’t expect to win because I’m also a med student. It was tough—training while studying. I have to balance it,” said Wong, the perennial champion in her pet event for four SEA Games in a row now.

It turned out medical school isn’t much of a hindrance as the 24-year-old topped the combined women’s event of taijiquan and taijijian (sword play), the discipline where four of her five golds have came from.

“I’ve trained hard, but I was always thinking of my backlogs in school. But as they say, if there’s a will, there’s a way. You just have to balance everything,” said Wong.

She was a picture of serenity during her three-minute and 19-second routine in the taijijian to earn the approval of the judges for a victorious score of 9,683 points.

It was then combined with her score in the taijiquan (9,580) where Wong finished third behind Malaysia’s Sydney Chin (9,640) and Brunei’s Basma Lachkar (9,610).

“To be honest, I would have been satisfied with a bronze,” said Wong, who compiled 19,263 points that bettered Chin’s 19,196 points following a 9,556 output in the taijijian.

Lachkar took the bronze after posting 9.55 on her second routine.

It was another slow day for Team Philippines, but far better when gold was a rare commodity the past two days.

But a deluge of mints are expected on Saturday after nine Filipino boxers progressed to the finals while several more could come from weightlifting, taekwondo, arnis, dancesport and aerobic gymnastics over the next few days.

Tight 1-2 race

Philippine women's recognized poomsae team.  –JUNE NAVARRO

Philippine women’s recognized poomsae team. –JUNE NAVARRO

Vietnam continues to keep a strangehold of the overall lead with Thailand now running second. Cambodia dropped to third in the tally followed by Indonesia and Singapore.

The trio of Jocelyn Ninobla, Aidaine Laxa and Nicole Labayne plus Patrick King Perez chipped in their share of the country’s four-gold haul for the day in taekwondo poomsae.

Ninobla collected three individual gold medals during her previous stints and shared the blessing this time with Laxa and Labayne tagging along in the women’s recognized poomsae contest.

“I was highly motivated to win because I want them (Laxa and Labayne) to experience how it feels to win a gold medal,” said Ninobla, the women’s individual poomsae champion since 2017 in Malaysia.

The trio, which got together and began training online at the height of the pandemic, performed impeccably before a sizeable Filipino crowd here at the Chroy Changvar Convention Hall.

Cheering Laxa, Labayne and Ninobla on the stands were Senate president Juan Miguel Zubiri, senators Bong Go and Francis Tolentino along with Philippine Olympic Committee president and Tagaytay City mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.

“When you see our kababayans cheer for you, you easily get inspired to do your best. We’re thankful for the support,” said Laxa, a third-year political science major from University of Santo Tomas (UST).

The judges rewarded them with 7,720 points after a laser-focused routine almost without flaw to clinch the gold over Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and host Cambodia.

It was the first gold medal in these Games for Laxa and Labayne, a Grade 11 student also from UST.

Ninobla, who graduated from UST with a degree in sports science, can make it a double-gold effort in the mixed recognized poomsae.

Patrick King Perez strikes gold in taekwondo poomsae.

Patrick King Perez strikes gold in taekwondo poomsae.

On cloud nine following a magnificent performance, Perez easily became the darling of the crowd when he ruled the men’s recognized poomsae individual event.

Perez was ecstatic after his final score flashed across the screen and somersaulted on his victory run to the delight of a wildly-cheering Filipino crowd at the Chroy Changvar Convention Hall here.

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