NAY PYI TAW – A teener who played like a grizzled warrior and a pair of tracksters likewise seemingly ready to take the mantle of responsibility from their more seasoned teammates.
The three acted as vanguard in a six-gold medal haul by Team Philippines Wednesday, stoking its chase for a decent finish in the 27th Southeast Asian Games in different venues here.
Dennis Orcollo topped the 10-ball pool singles over teammate Carlo Biado, but the young turks of the 210-strong PH delegation, including the new-look men’s poomsae team, clearly stole the show for the day.
Princess Superal, 16, was crowned queen of the Royal Myanmar Golf Course when she won the individual race and towed Mia Legaspi and Katrina Delen-Briones to the team gold over the vaunted home team.
Superal could only match par, but that was still enough to give her a three-round total of six-under 210 and a six-shot victory over Myanmar bet Yin May Myo.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Superal, who became the first Filipina golfer to rule the event since Chihiro Ikeda won four years ago in Laos.
“I was nervous and excited for the final round I woke up at 3:48 a.m,” she said with a laugh. “But it helped me settle down in my round early.”
Along with Legaspi’s 73, the Filipinas combined for a final day 145, giving them a three-round 428 total and an 11-shot win over Myanmar in team play.
Composed of brothers Djustin Jacob and Raphael Enrio Mella and Vidal Marvin Gabriel the men's poomsae squad clinched the gold medal with a total of 7.920 points, way ahead of Indonesia (7.590 points) and Thailand (7.550).
The breakthrough victory by the Filipinos made up for the dismal performance by the troika of Janice Lagman, Rani Ortega and Rinna Babanto, who could only manage bronze in the distaff side.
Then it was the turn of trackster Christopher Ulboc Jr. to make his Games debut a most memorable one through the 3,000m steeplechase, with more than a little help from five-time winner Rene Herrera.
While the other entries were focused on chasing early leader Herrera, Ulboc bided his time before making his decisive move following the last water jump, overtaking his fast-fading teammate and streaking to the finish uncontested.
Ulboc, 23, was given a clocking of 9:01.59 with Vietnamese Thien Sam Pham coming in second on 9:02.50, and Thai Patikarn Petchricha third with a 9:04.4.
Herrera, who was nursing a sore right Achilles tendon, wound up fourth.
“Nagpapasalamat ako kay Kuya Rene, dahil tinuruan talaga niya ako kung paano kumarera,” said the Misamis Occidental native and product of Far Eastern University.
“Pagkatapos nga nu’ng last jump, sabi niya, ‘Kumapit ka lang, huwag kang bibitaw, may speed ka pa.’ Kaya nga ang laki ng utang na loob ko sa kanya.”
Another Games newcomer in Jesson Ramil Cid, a 22-year-old teammate of Ulboc at FEU, then capped the day by topping the decathlon with a new Philippine record of 7,038 points, erasing from the books the 6,963 set by Fidel Gallenero in 2001.
Orcollo, a two-event champion two years ago in Indonesia, will not be denied his day in the sun and he capped it with a 9-7 victory over Carlo Biado in the all-Filipino finals of 10-ball singles, atoning for his quarterfinals exit in the 9-ball.
“Atin na ito, sisiguruhin nating sa Pilipinas ang gold na ito,” said Orcollo, 34, right after exacting revenge on 9-ball tormentor Nitiwat Kanjanasri with a 9-3 victory in their 10-ball singles quarterfinals.
The former world 8-ball Champion then steamrolled his way past Anh Tuan of Vietnam, 9-4, to set up his showdown with Biado.
The six gold medals atoned for Team Philippines’ losses in other fronts as it jacked its total to 20 and moved it closer to sixth-running Singapore, which could only cop three victories for the day for a 23 total.
The bitter came with the sweet.
Aside from Herrera, also relinquishing her crown was judoka Nancy Quillotes-Lucero, who was denied a third gold when she lost to Myanmar bet via a decision in the 45kg-and-under category.
Gabriel also settled for the silver in the men's poomsae individual event, the same finish registered by fellow taekwondo-jin Stephen Morrison in the under-74kg class.