HANGZHOU—Meggie Ochoa transformed her sick body into one gold medal-clinching machine to give Team Philippines a third reason to rejoice in the 19th edition of the Asian Games that comes to a close in three days.
“My prayers got answered,” said the two-time world champion as tears rolled down from her wary but sparkling eyes following her 1-0 victory over Balqees Abdulla of United Arab Emirates in jiu-jitsu’s women’s -48kg category.
Her gold medal was only the second for Team Philippines that hinged its campaign for five days now Ernest John “EJ” Obiena’s expected victory in record fashion in men’s pole vault.
“This victory is different from the rest, because here, I represent our country,” said the 33-year-old Ochoa, bronze medalist in the Indonesia Asiad five years ago.
Ochoa wasn’t feeling well when he arrived here three days ahead of her campaign.
Ochoa had a slight fever when she arrived here but went down to 36.7 the morning after.
“She had itchy eyes and felt cold, she also had a sore throat,” Michael Magpantay, a member of the Team Philippines medical staff headed by Dr. Charles Corpuz, said. “When Dr. [Jojo] Gaddi checked on her, she was capable of fighting.”
With two gold, one silver—courtesy of wushu sanda warrior Arnel Mandal—and 10 bronze medals, the Philippines was 22nd on the medal tally board and still two golds short of matching its haul in Indonesia 2018.
China was unreachable with its haul of 177 gold medals, followed by Japan with 41-52-59 gold-silver-bronze tally at second, South Korea with 33-47-75 at third, India at fourth with 21-32-32 and Uzbekistan at fifth with 17-16-22.
Meanwhile, Sakura Alforte pocketed a bronze medal in the individual kata event of women’s karate.
The Southeast Asian Games gold winner tallied 41.90 points in defeating Chien Hui Hsuan of Chinese Taipei (41.30) for a place at the medal podium.
The 20-year-old Filipino-Japanese is fast becoming a household name in the continental scene after claiming a bronze medal in the 2021 Asian championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
“This is one tournament I’m really looking forward to [competing]. I’m very happy,’’ Alforte, who qualified to the second round after kicking off her bid at third and compiling 40 points, said.
Alforte landed on third among four competitors in the second round with 40.70 points to set up in a collision course for third place against Chien.
Image credits: Canon Eos R6