Veteran Richard Gonzales performed his best in the 27th Southeast Asian Games men’s singles table tennis competition despite settling only with a bronze medal Saturday at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium in Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar.
Gonzales, who played with an injured ankle, defeated Sok Long Lim of Cambodia, Malaysian Mohd Shakirin Ibrahim, Thailand’s Chaisit Chaitat and Laos’ Phinit Khong Phet in the elimination round to barge in the medal round.
“He (Gonzales) was injured during the competition but he didn’t stop competing, showing to all fellow athletes that he is determined to provide glory for our country,” said Table Tennis Association of the Philippines President Ting Ledesma.
Gonzales, 42, twisted his ankle but survived national champion Mohd Shakirin Ibrahim of Malaysia,3-2 (8-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 13-11) and then he beat Thailand’s Chaisit Chaitat despite limping around in pain, 3-1 (2-11, 11-7, 14-12, 11-8).
“He ignored the pain,” said Ledesma of Gonzales, who won the silver medal of the same event in 2005 SEA Games hosted by the Philippines in Manila. “The Philippine table tennis community is happy and satisfied with his performance.”
Gonzales, who is coached by former national player Lauro Crisostomo, though lost to Chinese import Zhan Jian (0-4) in the semifinals for an automatic bronze finish.
Gonzales started playing in SEA Games in 1995.
Besides Gonzales, La Salle’s Yan-Yan Lariba is also competing in the women’s singles round.
JOSEF T. RAMOS