In a late surge that surprised everyone, the Philippines emerged victorious with its biggest gold-medal haul in an overseas Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in nearly four decades.
The nation’s athletes concluded their campaign on a high note, amassing 58 gold medals in the Cambodia SEA Games held from May 1 to May 17. This remarkable achievement marked the Philippines’ best performance on foreign soil since 1987 when they secured 59 golds in Indonesia.
The Philippine contingent shone brightly across various sports disciplines, capturing 260 medals, surpassing their 227-medal haul in the previous SEA Games in Vietnam. Alongside their golden triumphs, they secured an impressive tally of 85 silvers and 117 bronzes, further solidifying their position among the top performers in the region.
Traditionally, host countries tend to excel in the SEA Games, and the Philippines showcased their dominance in previous editions held on home soil in 2019, 2005, and 1991, where they clinched 149, 112, and 91 gold medals, respectively.
The Philippines’ ascent to the top of the medal table seemed a distant possibility, as they initially occupied the sixth spot with 31 gold medals on May 12. However, the final days of the competition witnessed an extraordinary surge in performances from taekwondo, boxing, weightlifting, arnis, kickboxing, and wrestling, propelling the Philippines to finish fifth overall, trailing behind Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and host nation Cambodia.
Arnis, kickboxing, and wrestling mainly stole the spotlight in the closing days of the games, contributing 10 of the 12 gold medals won during that period. Arnis, which equaled taekwondo’s six golds, garnered four more through the outstanding performances of Dexter Bolambao, Maria Ella Alcoseba, Crisamuel Delfin, and Trixie Marie Lofranco.
Wrestling secured three of its four gold medals in the final stretch, with Tina Vergara, Alvin Lobreguito, and Ronil Tubog dominating their respective events. Meanwhile, kickboxing showcased its strength as Claudine Veloso and Gretel de Paz secured the Philippines’ 57th and 58th gold medals, following Jean Claude Saclag’s victory the day before.
Taekwondo, which had a modest performance in Vietnam with only two gold medals, rose to the occasion with a triumphant finish. The poomsae team, Kurt Barbosa, Samuel Morrison, Kirstie Alora, and Arven Alcantara, collectively contributed six gold medals to the country’s overall tally.
Wrestling, boxing, gymnastics, athletics, and obstacle course racing, shared the distinction of securing four gold medals, while kickboxing, triathlon, jiu-jitsu, and soft tennis claimed three golds each.
Swimming, kun bokator, karate, weightlifting, and esports secured two gold medals, while judo, wushu, tennis, and basketball, represented by Gilas Pilipinas, celebrated one gold apiece.
Among the standout athletes, gymnastics star Carlos Yulo emerged as the Philippines’ top performer, earning two gold medals and two silvers. Soft tennis players Bien Zoleta and Princess Catindig also demonstrated exceptional skills, claiming two gold medals each. Swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi was the most decorated athlete, accumulating seven medals, including four silvers and three bronzes.
The Philippines’ exceptional showing in the Cambodia SEA Games is a testament to the country’s growing prowess in various sports disciplines.
The athletes’ unwavering dedication and impressive performances have brought immense pride to the nation, capturing the hearts of sports enthusiasts nationwide. As the celebrations continue, the Philippines looks forward to further success in future sporting events, fueled by the remarkable achievements in this historic SEA Games campaign.