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PH runner Christopher Ulboc wins 2nd straight SEA Games gold

SINGAPORE -  Christopher Ulboc Jr celebrated Philippine Independence Day with a rousing come-from-behind victory in retaining the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase title at the close of the 28th Southeast Asian Games competitions at the Singapore National Stadium here on Friday, June 12.

Content to coast in second for most of the race, the former Far Eastern University runner Ulboc stepped on the gas and surged past erstwhile Vietnamese frontrunner Tien San Pham in the last 200 meters to secure the gold medal in a personal best of eight minutes, 59.07 seconds.

Pham bagged the silver in 8:59.90 while Indonesia’s Atjong Purwanto, who had led at the start, faded to third place and took the bronze (9:06.41).

“Medyo kinabahan din po, pero duon sa last 200 meters alam kong malalampasan ko ang Vietnamese,” said the 24-year-old pride of Pagadian City, Davao del Sur. “Eto ay para sa bayan sa araw ng ating kalayaan.”

“I got nervous for a while but going into the last 200 meters, I knew I could pass the Vietnamese.

“This victory is for my country as we celebrate Independence Day.

It was not only a victory for Ulboc but also one for the hometown bets after all of the four previous gold medals bagged by the Phiilippines came from Filipino-Americans Caleb Stuart (hammer throw), Kayla Richardson (women’s 100 meters) and Eric Cray (men’s 100 meters and 400-meter low hurdles) on Tuesday.

Ulboc’s gold medal ties athletics with boxing’s haul of 5 for the Philippines

Other than Ulboc, no other Filipino entry could do better than a bronze, led by Fil-Am Donovan Arriola, who made his SEA Games debut with a bronze medal in the men’s long jump with a leap of 7.51.

Thailand’s Supanara Ayudhaya wrapped up the gold medal (7.75) while Vietnam’s Van Lam Pham copped the silver (7.52).

Defending champion Henry Dagmil, who competed with an injured hamstring, finished in sixth place (7.28).

Edgar Alejan salvaged the bronze medal in the men’s 400-meters run with a time of 47.08 seconds with Thailand’s Kunnanon Sukaew (46.00) and Vietnam’s Cong Lich Quach (46.02) taking the gold ands silver, respectively.

Reigning 400-meter king Archand Bagsit pulled a muscle in the heats and decided to scratch the finals.

Narcisa Atienza likewise took the bronze in the women’s heptathlon (2:34.18).

Overall, the Filipinos had one gold less than predecessors in the Myanmar SEA Games two years ago aside from bringing home seven silvers and nine bronzes.

As of 6:30 pm Friday, the Philippines has 102 medals, including 24 golds, 28 silvers and 50 bronzes, good enough for sixth place. Fifth place Indonesia has 31 gold medals in their 123 total medals.

 - Rappler.com