HANGZHOU—Alex Eala won’t be returning home to the Philippines with a gold medal around her neck but her two bronzes in tennis proved the 18-year-old has surpassed expectations at the 19th Asian Games.
Eala added a second bronze medal to the one she clinched in women’s singles after her mixed doubles tandem with Francis Casey Alcantara yielded to the Chinese-Taipei pair of Liang En-Shuo and Huang Tsung-hao, 5-7, 3-6, in a thrilling semifinals duel at the HOC Tennis Centre Friday.
“If overachievement is a thing then we have the potential to do more,” Eala said after the match that Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann watched.
In boxing, it was another disappointing games for Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Nesthy Petecio.
Petecio lost to rop seed Lin Yu Ting of Chinese Taipei, 4-1, in a women’s featherwright round of 16 bout also on Friday.
Lin made sure it’s Petecio who makes an early exit this time. Petecio stunned Lin in the preliminaries of the Tokyo Olympics where the Filipino went on to finish with a silver medal.
Lin, almost a head taller at 5-foot-9, used her height and reach advantage over Petecio practically the entire fight.
“We tried to jump the gun on each other to be able to get the tempo first,” Petecio said. “She got there first.”
The loss denied Petecio of her first shot at clinching a return ticket to the Olympics next year as the Asian Games are a qualifier for Paris.
Now, she has to go through and the world championship for aother shot at the gold medal.
“We’re not done yet,” vowed Petecio, who was booted out by a Chinese opponent in the quarterfinals of the Jakarta 2018 games.
Alcantara and Eala’s path to the semifinals included victories over Nepal and games top seed Thailand in the quarterfinals.
That made them the first Philippine pair to win a mixed doubles medal in the Asiad since Patricia Yngayo and Federico Deyro captured silver in the 1966 edition.
But for Eala, it was doubly significant as she joined an exclusive club of multiple medal winners in a single edition.
She made it to the medal round with a 0-6, 7-5, 6-0 stunner over Japanese Kyoka Okamuraon Wednesday, a victory that ended the country’s 17-year medal drought in tennis.
She also pushed No. 1 seed and US Open quarterfinalist Zheng Qinwen of China to her limit before bowing, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, in their semis duel on Thursday.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes (CANON EOS R6)