[PHOTO AT LEFT - WINNING WAYS: President Arroyo congratulates Team Philippines karatedo gold medalist Nelson Pacalso during her visit to the Mandaue City sports complex where several of the 23rd SEA Games events were held yesterday. - Photo by Joy Torrejos]

MANILA, November 30, 2005 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - The Philippines broke another record in athletics to set off another golden rampage as the host country, with still six days of competition left, moved close to surpassing the number of gold medals it won in 2003.

Sixteen gold medals came one after the other yesterday, three of them in wushu and two each in athletics, fencing and wrestling, to give the Philippines a pacesetting total of 41 gold, 24 silver and 27 bronze medals.

With over 300 golds yet to be disputed, the Philippines is practically assured of a better finish in this 23rd SEA Games. It won 49 gold, 55 silver and 75 bronze medals to finish fourth in Vietnam two years ago.

"It’s good. But like in basketball, we have to hold on to the lead until the final two minutes. So we’ll have a chance to win," said Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez.

The medal tally released by organizers as of 10 last night showed Vietnam in second (25-23-28) followed by Thailand (19-29-35), Malaysia (17-14-18) and Indonesia (10-17-23).

Singapore is next (9-9-18) then Myanmar (6-8-11), Brunei (0-2-2) and Laos (0-1-3). Cambodia has two bronzes under its name while newcomer Timor Leste is the only nation with no medal yet.

The three golds in wushu were safely delivered by Willy Wang (giangshu spear), Aida Yang/Vicky Ting (taolu-duilian) and Richard Ng/Nester Pimentel (duilian).

Wang became the country’s first double-gold winner in individual events after winning the jianshu gold the other day. Diver Sheila Mae Perez also has two golds — the individual 3m springboard and 3m synchronized springboard where she teamed up with Ceceil Domenios.

For the third straight day, athletics provided the early spark for Team Philippines which remained on top of the leaderboard.

After winning 20 gold medals Monday in what is believed to be a record for the country, the Filipinos struck just as hard yesterday with seven other sports winning one gold each.

Athletics won the country’s first gold medal of the meet last Sunday courtesy of long jumper Maristella Torres then provided the first gold the following day through long-distance runner Mercedita Manipol.

Yesterday, it was the turn of hammer throw specialist Arniel Ferrera who won the gold in record fashion but with just small crowd witnessing his feat the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The finals in hammer throw was held early in the morning. In fact, there were only some applause when Ferrera’s name was announced as the winner or that he had just broken the meet record.

The 24-year-old Ferrera threw the hammer 60.47 meters, breaking the previous mark of 58.80 set by Singapore’s Wong Tee Kue in the 1993 Singapore SEA Games.

But as the day grew longer, Ferrera’s feat had spread like wildfire. Also winning a gold for athletics yesterday was Jimar Aing in the men’s 400-m run (47.03). Teammate Ernie Candelario took the silver (47.06).

The Philippines also set a new meet record in men’s long jump the other day when Henry Dagmil won in 7.81. The old record was 7.79 (Malaysia’s Zaki Sadri in 1997).

Winning two golds for wrestling were Jimmy Angana who defeated Vietnam’s Phan Duc Tang in the 66 kg freestyle finals, and Francis Villanueva who downed Thailand’s Arthit Chairat for the 120 kg freestyle gold.

The two Filipino wrestlers went undefeated in four matches at the jampacked San Andres Sports Complex.

Winners for Philippine fencing were Walbert Mendoza (men’s saber) and Weena Nuestro (women’s foil).

The other gold medalists for Team Philippines were bowling’s Cecilia Yap (women’s singles), swimming’s Miguel Molina (400-m individual medley), taekwondo’s Kirstie Elaine Alora (featherweight), karatedo’s Nelson Pacalso (-65 kg kumite), cycling’s Maritess Bitbit (cross country), billiards’ Dodong Andam and Ronnie Alcano (15-ball doubles), and shooting’s Juanito Angeles (practical shotgun).

Vietnamese spikers mute GMA’s cheers The Philippine Star 11/30/2005

BACOLOD CITY —President Arroyo failed to fire up the country’s volleyball male spikers when she arrived at the West Negros Gym here 15 minutes towards the end of the third set.

Team Vietnam handed the Filipinos their second loss, 25-11, 25-17, 25-15, via their service wins and defense.

The RP spikers, on the other hand, succumbed to the same errors they committed in their first match with Myanmar Sunday.

Arroyo took time to shake hands of the players before going to the football match between the RP booters and Malaysia at the Panaad Stadium. She was, however, overheard telling the Filipino athletes "not to lose hope." — Antonietta Lopez

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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