Kickboxing team snares 2 gold

Gina Iniong-Araos and Jean Claude Saclag deliver the mints for Team Philippines. NONIE REYES/Canon R6

HANOI—Gina Iniong-Araos and Jean Claude Saclag retained their titles on Monday night for a modest Philippine campaign in the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games’ kickboxing competitions that ended after midnight Friday at the Bac Ninh Gymnasium .

Iniong-Araos, 32, of Baguio City, scored a 2-1 victory over a bigger and wider Jaiteang Waraporn of Thailand to claim gold in the women’s low kick 60 kgs finals.

Saclag, on the other hand, matched the aggressiveness and savvy of another Thai, Chaleamlap Santidongsakum, to score a 2-1 win in the men’s 63.5 kgs low kick final as Filipio kickboxers finished their stint with a medal harvest of two gold, four silver and two bronze medals.

Vietnam ruled the sport with a 5-0-6 gold-silver-bronze tally, followed by Thailand with 2-4-6.

The two gold medals jacked up the Philippine tally to 5-12-11 at the end of action Friday.

The victory was especially sweet for Iniong-Araos, who showed doubters that she can still hack it after giving birth to a baby girl two years ago after ruling 55kg light kick event in the Philippine SEA Games in 2019.

“Naging challenge sa akin ang mga negative comment ng marami na kesyo sabi nila, ‘Ano ba ‘yan? Nanganak na lalaban pa, ba’t ‘di na lang alaagan ang anak?’” said Aniong-Araos, who will also see action in vovinam, a Vietnamese form of martial art.

Philippine Olympic Committee President and newly-elected Tagaytay mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and Philippine Sports Commission Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, the chief of mission of the national team here, watched the finals.

Their presence proved to be a big boost for Saclag, who said:

“Masarap lagi ang first (gold),” Saclag said. “Pero masarap din ang pangalawa, para sa bayan!”

The other Filipino finalists Renalyn Daquel, Gretel De Paz, Zephania Ngaya and Claudine Veloso settled for silver medals.

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