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    LOOKBACK: How PH fared the last time SEA Games were held in Vietnam

    May 25, 2022
    Philippines in 2003 SEA Games
    The last time the Philippines had this level of success in the SEA Games outside the country? Also in Vietnam.
    PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer archives

    SAVE for the inglorious debacle that has befallen the men's basketball team, Hanoi has been fairly good to our Philippine athletes.

    The recently concluded 31st Southeast Asian Games proved just that with the Filipino delegation taking home 52 gold, 70 silver, and 104 bronze medals after sending 656 athletes in 39 sports.

    Finishing fourth, it's the country's finest performance in the biennial event that wasn't hosted here.

    The last time the Philippines had this level of success in the SEA Games outside of the country? Also in Vietnam.

    Philippines in 2003 SEA Games

    The Filipino contingent also ended up at fourth place in the 2003 SEA Games as it bagged 49 gold, 55 silver, and 75 bronze medals from the 600 athletes that competed in 28 sports.

    It was four golds more for the Philippines as it narrowly beat Malaysia to make it to the top four.

    Athletics delivered the biggest medal haul from the contingent, harvesting eight gold medals bannered by sprinter and flag bearer Eduardo Buenavista and marathon champion Allan Ballester, with the rest of the team also taking home three silver and five bronze.

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    Wushu also helped the Philippines get over the hump with six golds thanks to golden doubles from artists Arvin Ting (gunshu) and Willy Wang (qianshu), as well as victories from Eduard Folayang and Dolly Andres in sanshou.

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    Philippines in 2003 SEA Games

    Toni Rivero was also sensational for the taekwondo team which had five gold, three silver, and six bronze medals while these games also saw standout performances from fencing which delivered four golds led by Richard Gomez, and chess led by Mark Paragua who was pivotal in the delegation taking home three gold medals including the men's individual rapid.

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    It was an expected gold medal performance for the RP Team in men's basketball with Gary David, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris, and Rich Alvarez carrying the Aric del Rosario-coached squad to a dominant 5-0 sweep in Ho Chi Minh. It was the Philippines' last gold medal before it was served a Fiba suspension and the event was scrapped for the Manila staging in 2005.

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      Boxing, though, incurred the biggest blackeye from the games with just a lone gold medalist in light flyweight Harry Tanamor and having five silver medalists, prompting coach Boy Velasco to cry foul. "Pinagkakatay tayo rito," he was quoted in a report by Philippine Daily Inquirer's Roy Luarca.

      Nineteen years later, Filipino athletes can only say "Cảm ơn!" to Vietnam.

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      The last time the Philippines had this level of success in the SEA Games outside the country? Also in Vietnam.
      PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer archives
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