4th Asia gold lifts PH spirit

Golden golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Isabel Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go show off gold medals they won at the Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia after arriving in the country. (Al Padilla photo)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Margielyn Didal skated her way from the streets of Cebu into Asia’s biggest sporting stage as she ran away with the country’s fourth gold medal in the 18th Asian Games Wednesday at the Jabakaring Sports City in Palembang.

The 19-year old former street kid whose mother sells fried quail eggs in Lahug for a living zoomed out of nowhere to rule the women’s street event in the skating competition of this prestigious quadrennial meet.

She posted 30.4 points to become the country’s fourth gold medal winner following the impressive runs of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and golfers Yuka Saso, Lois Kaye Go and Bianca Pagdanganan in the first two weeks of competition.

Isa Kaya of Japan grabbed the silver medal with 25.0 points while 12-year old Nyimas Bunga of Indonesia settled for the bronze medal with 19.8 points in this sport that is making its debut here.

“I gave everything for the country,” said Didal, who admitted that she used to cut classes just to train in the busy streets of Lahug.

“I am very happy because I managed to give my best. This victory is not just for me, but for all the Filipino skateboarders as well.”

Hang time

Her performance was so dominant that she dictated the tempo early on with a score of 6.7 points in a performance highlighted by a death-defying “board slide” on the railings coming off a higher platform.

She further displayed her hang time with an “Ollie” in the second round to post 14.4 points to edge Isa’s 13.3 points.

Then, she went for the kill with 7.1 and 8.9 points in her third and fourth attempts, a breath-taking performance where she delivered an acrobatic backside 50/50, 360-degree flip that drew cheers from the crowd that included Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas and chairman Bambol Tolentino.

“I didn’t feel any pressure. I just enjoyed it,” said Didal, who is tipped to come home to a heroes’ welcome on top of the P6 million cash incentive from the Philippine Sports Commission, POC, Siklab Foundation and the Philippine ambassador to Indonesia.

“I hope this victory changes people’s perception on skateboarding,” she said, hoping to revolutionize the sport by changing the notion on it.

“Let’s change the game. We need their support. I hope they will no longer nab us in the streets.”

But Didal wasn’t the lone Filipino medalist that day.

Bronze in silat

Another obscure bet in Almohaidib Abad garnered 455 points to clinch the bronze medal in the men’s singles finals of pencak silat at the Jakarta Convention Center.

The 18-year-old Gen. Santos City pencak artist said the competition was tough as Sugianto Sugianto of Indonesia and Ilyas Sadara of Thailand cornered the gold and silver medals with 471 and 460 points, respectively.

“The competition was tough, but I was looking to win the gold medal,” said Abad.

“But claiming the bronze medal is okay. At least I was able to contribute to our medal production.”

Didal and Abad’s production were pleasant surprises to the Philippine Team that was stung by the sorry setbacks in gymnastics, taekwondo, boxing and jiu-jitsu.

With that, Filipino athletes climbed back to the 17th spot with four gold and 13 bronze medals, most of which are from pencak silat and taekwondo entering the tail-end of this three-week competition.

China is poised to win the overall crown with 100 gold, 65 silver and 48 bronze medals while Japan and Korea cemented themselves at the second and third spots with 48 and 35 gold medals, respectively.

Host gets most medals

Host country Indonesia is tipped to emerge with the most number of gold medals among Southeast Asian countries with 29 while Thailand has nine and Vietnam, Malaysia and Philippines have four apiece.

Tipped to add to that haul are boxers Rogen Ladon and Carlo Paalam while seasoned riders Toni Leviste and Joker Arroyo could also end up with a medal in equestrian.

Ladon became the first Filipino in the semifinals after downing Mahmetov Azat of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals of men’s flyweight late Tuesday while Carlo Paalam dominated another Kazakh in Temirtas Zhussopov in the quarters of men’s light flyweight class the following day to be assured of at least a bronze medal.

Another favored bet in Eumir Felix Marcial will shoot for the semifinals when he clashed with Kim Jinjea of Korea in the men’s middleweight later in the day.

Over at the Jakarta International Park, Leviste and Arroyo figured prominently among 40 qualifiers in the showjumping competition.

Aboard Maximillian, the 45-year old Leviste ranked 15th overall with accumulated points of 8.50 from three qualifiers.

Arroyo, a member of the team that won the gold medal in the Manila SEA Games in 2005 and silver medal in the Kuala Lumpur SEAG in 2017, is at 27th with 21.52 points, including eight penalties.

Knott in finals

In athletics, Kristina Knott clocked 23.65 seconds to advance to the finals of the women’s 200-meter run while Trenten Berram fell by the wayside after tallying 21.26 seconds in the semifinals of the men’s 200-meter run.

Knott is still seeing action together with jumper Harry Diones, pole vault specialist EJ Obiena and the vaunted relay team of Eric Cray, Berra, Anfernee Lopena and Clinton Bautista at press time.

Meanwhile, Filipino judokas are off to a rough start as Filipino-Japanese Shugen Nakano fell prey to Yeldos Zhukamakanov of Kazakhstan, 0-10, in the Round of 16 of the men’s -66kg class.

The judokas, however, still have a chance as rising stars Mariya Takahashi and Kiyomi Watanabe are set to see action in the next couple of days.

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