HANGZHOU—Arnel Mandal couldn’t solve a tough veteran from China to settle for second place in men’s sanda of wushu—an accomplishment that provided a silver lining for the Philippine campaign in the 19th Asian Games on Thursday.
Mandal lost, 2-0, to China’s Jiang Haidong in the men’s 56 kgs final at the Xiaoshan Guali Sports Centre to highlight the most productive day so far for Team Philippines five days into the games that the host are surely to dominate with their insatiable desire for gold.
“Do-or-die,” Mandal said. “It was a gold medal fight and I did everything I could but he was just too strong and too tough.”
Sanda bouts are short—two-minute two-rounders—thus a fighter who gains a head start almost always gets the win.
“But I’m still happy with this silver, who would have thought that I’ll be a silver medalist in my first Asian Games,” said the 27-year-old from Barangay Calaparan in Arevalo District, Iloilo City, who’s bound to receive a P1 million incentive for his silver from the government through the Philippine Sports Commission.
The Philippines went 0-2-5 in gold, silver and bronze medal Thursday with young tennis ace Alex Eala losing—but with a tough stand—to China’s Zheng Qinwen, 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-3, in a women’s singles semifinal match.
Wushu’s Guideon Fred Padua and Clemente Tabugara Jr. formally claimed their bronze medals Thursday also in wushu’s sanda in men’s 60 and 65 kgs, respectively.
Padua reinjured his nose in an impressive quarterfinal win over Turkmenistan’s Agajumageldi Yazymov on Tuesday night and was advised to withdraw from a semifinal bout against
The other bronze medals for Team Philippines—supported by the PSC and the Philippine Olympic Committee—came from Patrick King Perez in taekwondo’s men’s individual poomsae and taolu specialist Jones Inso’s in the men’s taijiquan-taijijian all-round also of wushu.
The silver medal put weight on PSC chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann’s confidence on Filipino athletes eventually winning gold medals in the days to come.
“I’m confident that we can still surpass previous achievement of four gold medals in Jakarta in 2018.”
The Philippines won four gold medals—two in women’s golf and one each in weightlifting and skateboarding—with two silvers and 15 bronzes in the games’ 18th edition in Jakarta and Palembang five years ago.
EALA GUARANTEED OF 2ND BRONZE
ALEX EALA got a bronze medal in her first foray in the Asian Games following a 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6 defeat to top seed Zheng Qinwen of China on Thursday.
But Eala, 18, still had another shot at a gold medal after she and Francis Casey Alcantara beat Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum and Maximus Parapol Jones, 6-4, 6-4, on Thursday night to advance to the mixed doubles semifinals for a guaranteed bronze medal and a potential gold.
Those two bronzes already matched Cecille Mamiit’s haul at the Doha 2006 Games, the last time the Philippines medaled in the Asian Games.
Several inches shorter than the Chinese ace, the 5-foot-8 Eala recovered from a sluggish start with a dominant performance in the second set.
Fatigue, however, caught up with Eala—she’s been playing singles in the morning and doubles later in the day for the past three days at the HOC Tennis Centre.
Eala looked headed to stunning the 21-year-old Zheng, who packs dozens of matches against the world’s best in the majors.
The Filipino took a 3-1 lead in the third set in a game she capped with a sizzling return, but her magic suddenly disappeared and was limited to just four points the rest of the way.
But while Eala looked tired and weary, the Chinese, ranked No. 23 in the world, got her momentum back and bombed the Filipina with wicked forehand winners to snatch the win
Thirty-three of the 45 country’s which fielded athletes in the games have clinched at least one bronze medal with China continuing to dominate with 84 golds, followed by South Korea with 20 and Japan with 18.
At the bottom of the medal tally with one bronze medal each were Bangladesh, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkmenistan.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes (CANON EOS R6)