KUALA LUMPUR: A pair of boxers punched a ray of hope while a quartet in a relatively unfamiliar sport made its presence felt to highlight the country’s golden campaign midway into the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
Filipino-British newcomer Marvin John Tupas announced his arrival in style while Eumir Felix Marcial affirmed his status as one of the region’s heaviest puncher as they clinched the gold medal in their respective weight classes Thursday at the Malaysia International Trade and Convention Center here.
Tupas didn’t waste precious time as he landed a big right straight right into the face of Adli Hafidz Bin Mohd Pauzi of Malaysia in the first eight seconds before unloading a barrage of body punches with more than two minutes left to conquer the gold medal in light heavyweight class.
“I didn’t expect the fight to end this soon,” said Tupas, a member of the British army who is seeing action for the Philippines for the first time after walking-in to express his intention to don the national colors.
“It was so good to win my first gold medal for the country.”
Prior to that speedy stoppage, Marcial worked hard for three rounds before securing a unanimous decision victory over Pathomsak Kuttiya of Thailand in the middleweight class.
Despite being bothered by a painful left hand, Marcial poured everything he had to outbox the Thai and clinch his first gold medal since ruling the welterweight class in the Singapore SEA Games in 2007.
“I really wanted to knock him out to avenge the setback of Carlo (Paalam) and Ian Clark (Bautista),” said Marcial in Filipino. “But I couldn’t punch my left hand. I just tried to fight the pain because boxing is our life.”
The two-gold medal finish is quite an achievement for vaunted Philippine boxing squad, especially since the organizers limited the number of events and made some questionable calls.
Falling by the wayside was Paalam while Olympian Charly Suarez and Bautista settled for bronze medals in the light flyweight and flyweight, respectively, and Mario Fernandez claimed the silver following a sorry setback to Chatchai Butdee of Thailand in the bantamweight class.
But if hopes were high on the boxers, another gold medalist in the national lawn bowls squad made heads turn upon their return to the biennial conclave.
After missing the past four editions of the SEA Games, the country’s lawn bowls squad pulled off a shocker as it won the gold medal in men’s fours event.
The quartet of Emmanuel Protacio, Ronald Lising, Leoncio Carreon and Cuarte Robert Guari edged heavyweight Malaysia, 16-14, in the finals to clinch the gold medal in their its first SEA Games action since 2007.
Composed of Zulhimie Redzuan, Izzat Shameer Dzulkeple, Safuan Said and Daeng Dhadry Dahasry, the home team was no match to the Filipinos’ accuracy and precision.
The Thais settled for the bronze.
Also adding to the country’s golden harvest late Wednesday were Trenten Berram and Aries Toledo, who ruled the men’s 200-meter run and men’s decathlon, respectively.
Seeing action for the first time in this prestigious continental tourney, the Filipino-American Berram announced his arrival in impressive fashion after posting a national record of 20.84 seconds to win the gold over Jirapong Maneepra of Thailand (21.22 seconds) and Thevarr Gunenesaran of Malaysia (21.26 seconds).
Beram will shoot for his second gold medal when he competes in the finals of the men’s 400-meter run later in the day.
The good-looking Connecticut University standout picked up from where he left off as he cruised to a time of 47.16 seconds in the preliminary heats to gain a ticket to the finals set at 9:10 pm.
Aside from Beram, also seeing action were veteran Narcisa Atienza, who began her campaign in the women’s heptathlon while Janry Ubas and Fil-Am Tyler Ruiz were to contest the gold in the long jump at 8 p.m.
On Friday, former SEA Games long jump queen and Rio Olympic veteran Marestella Sunang-Torres will see action with Kay Santos in the long jump while Melvin Calano was slated to compete in the men’s javelin throw.
Eric Shawn Cray will be seeking to bounce back from his close loss in the men’s 100-meter dash last Tuesday when he anchors the Philippine squad in the men’s 4×100-meter relays at 4:20 p.m.
Kayla Richardson, who had a forgettable outing in the women’s 200-meter run last Wednesday, will seek redemption when she spearheads the Nationals in the women’s 4×100-meter relays at 4:10 p.m.
Prior to Beram’s golden performance in the 200-meter run, it was Toledo’s turn to hog the limelight as he proved that he is the region’s best all-around athlete with a total of 6,849 in men’s heptathlon.
Toledo, who has been behind the shadow of Jesson Ramil Sid in the earlier part of his athletic career, flattened Incheon Asian Games decathlon king Suttisak Singkon of Thailand, who led up to the 10th and final leg before the Filipino zoomed ahead for the victory.
Singkon finished with 6,678 points to settle for silver medal while Bui Van Su registered 6,207 to claim the bronze medal.
With Thursday’s harvest of three gold, a silver and four bronze medals, the Philippines is slowly crawling to the top with 13 gold, 16 silver and 25 bronze medals, good to remain at sixth place.
Malaysia remains mighty on top with 55 gold, 42 silver and 33 bronze medals while Singapore and Vietnam are locked in a furious battle at the second spot with 27 gold medals apiece.
Adding to the country’s medal haul for the day were golfer Lois Kaye Go and shooter Amparo Teresa Acuna, who chipped in a pair of bronze medals.
The 18-year old Go placed third behind Atthaya Thitikul and Thitapa Pakdeesettakul of Thailand in the women’s individual stroke play while Acuna placed third in the women’s 50m Rifle Prone individual event with 612.9 points behind Thai markswomen Ratchadaporn Plengsaengthong (619.8 points) and Supamas WanWankaew (617.7 points), who grabbed the gold and silver medals, respectively.