KUALA LUMPUR— The Philippines on Saturday won one gold and two bronze medals in the taekwondo poomsae competition of the 29th Southeast Asian Games at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here.
Dustin Jacob Mella, Rafael Enrico Mella and Rudolfo Reyes Jr. topped the men’s team event to retain the title they won in Singapore two years ago.
The Malaysian team of Chew Wei Yan, Kok Jun Ee and Yong Jin Kun took the silver while Vietnam’s Ho Thanh Phong, Le Hieu Nghia and Nguyen Thien Phung settled for the bronze.
Reyes also pocketed the bronze in the individual event after finishing third behind gold winner Chew Wei Yan of Malaysia and silver medalist Maulana Haidir of Indonesia.
The Philippines bagged another bronze courtesy of the women’s team of Rinna Babanto, a silver medalist in the 2015 SEA Games, Jocel Lyn Ninobla and Juvenile Faye Crisostomo.
Vietnam’s Chau Tuyet Van, Lien Thi Tuyet and Nguyen Thi Le Kim won the gold medal while Thailand’s Katesara Kiatatchawachai, Ornawee Srisahakit and Phenkanya Phaisankiattikun got the silver medal.
Meanwhile, competition in the kyorugi (sparring) kicks off on Sunday with three Filipinos assured of the bronze medals as they are in the semifinal round of their respective weight categories.
Samuel Thomas Harper Morrison, winner of the gold medal in the men’s 68kg in the 2015 Singapore Games, will be up against the winner between Vietnamese Ly Hong Phuc and Laotian Mangkheua Sonexay in the under 74kg. class.
Pauline Louise Lopez, a gold winner in the women’s under 57kg two years ago, will face Vietnamese Ha Thi Nguyen in the under 62kg category.
Arven Alcantara, who is making his first appearance in the SEA Games, is entered in the men’s under 68kg division where he will meet Laotian Sorphabmixay Sithikon.
Rhezie Canama Aragon will compete in the women’s under 53kg on August 28 while 2016 Rio Olympian Kirstie Elaine Alora (women’s under 73kg) and Francis Aaron Agojo (men’s under 63kg) will see action the next day.
Elora, 27, had the honor of carrying the Philippine flag during the opening ceremony last August 19. She won the silver medal in the 67kg category in the Asian Taekwondo Qualifying Tournament to earn a slot at the 2016 Rio Summer Games. She also got the bronze in at the 2010 (Guangzhou) and 2014 (Incheon) Asian Games.
Head coach Dindo Simpao said his players are physically and mentally prepared.
“All my athletes are capable of winning medals,” said the 42-year-old Simpao, a silver medalist in the Asian Taekwondo Championships in Amman, Jordan and a bronze winner in the Asian Games in Busan, South Korea in 2002. He retired after competing in the 2003 Vietnam SEA Games and has been with the national coaching staff since 2009.
Assisting Simpao is another athlete-turned-coach John Paul Lizardo, won two golds in the SEA Games, winning the finweight division in 2005 (Manila) and the flyweight division in 2011 (Palembang, Indonesia). He was also a bronze winner in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
The Philippines captured three gold medals, five silvers and five bronzes during the 2001 edition held here. The gold winners were Roberto Cruz, Veronica Domingo and Nelia Ycasas.
In 1991, the Philippines won eight golds courtesy of Roberto Cruz, Dean Vargas, Ramil Abratique, Ulysses Marcelino, Manel Sy, Bea Lucero, Sharon Sowy and Diana de Leon.