NEW CLARK CITY – Team Philippines danced its way to the top after the first official day of action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Dancesport delivered a total of 10 gold medals right away to spark the host's bid to regain the overall championship it last won 14 years ago.
Three gold medals each by the standard pair of Sean Micha Aranar and Leonila Nualla and Latin counterpart Wilbert Aunzo and Pearl Marie Caneda sparked the gold rush for the Filipinos, who also struck gold in arnis, triathlon, wushu, sepak takraw, kurash, and gymnastics courtesy of world champion Carlos Yulo.
Other gold medalists in dancesport are the duo of Mark Jayson Gayon and Mary Joy Renigen in standard category and Michael Angelo Marquez and Stephanie Sabalo in Latin. Both pairs bagged two gold medals each.
The 10 golds courtesy of dancesport already accounted for half of the total of 22 the host country won on Monday that propelled it to the top of the medal tally. The Filipinos also had 10 silvers and five bronzes.
The output also just fell two short of equaling the total of 24 the Filipinos won in the 2017 edition of the meet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where they finished sixth overall.
A far second behind the Philippines is Vietnam with five golds, including two in dancesport in standard quickstep and latin jive.
Malaysia is running strong at third with four golds followed by Singapore with three.
Thailand, the winningest country in the 61-year-history of the Games, is off to a slow start with just a pair of gold medals to show, while Indonesia, also a perennial champion, only won a gold along with Brunei Darussalam.
Still without a gold are Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos.
Arnis likewise contributed heavily to the Filipinos’ gold cause, winning five of eight golds at stake in the sport that is making a comeback in the biennial meet after a 14-year absence. These were courtesy of Dexler Bolambao, Nino Mark Taledo, Villardo Cunamay, Mike Banares, and Jezebel Morcillo, the lone lady entry to emerge winner.
Johnny Rambo Chicano kicked off the Filipinos’ bid early in the day, winning for the breakthrough gold in men’s triathlon. Kim Mangrobang made it a golden sweep by ruling the distaff side for the second straight time.
The unheralded men and women’s sepak takraw teams also made it a double gold, Agatha Wong topped the women’s taolu taijiquan to deliver the first gold for wushu, even as Estie Gay Liwanen captured the gold in the female 63-kg category of kurash, a folk wrestling-style practice in Central Asia.
Making it a special day for the country is Yulo’s gold in the men’s individual all-around fashioned out before a huge crowd at the newly-renovated Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. The 19-year-old Olympic-bound gymnast’s family lives just a stone-throw away from the age-old venue at Leveriza St.