SEA Games 2023

PH nets biggest overseas SEA Games gold haul in nearly 4 decades

Delfin Dioquino

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PH nets biggest overseas SEA Games gold haul in nearly 4 decades

ALL SMILES. Gilas Pilipinas reclaims its seat at the top of the SEA Games.

Kim Kyung-Hoon/REUTERS

The Philippines wraps up its Cambodia SEA Games campaign with 58 golds – one of the country's most productive overseas outings in the regional showpiece

MANILA, Philippines – A late surge powered the Philippines’ biggest gold-medal haul in an overseas Southeast Asian Games in nearly four decades.

The Philippines wrapped up its campaign on Wednesday, May 17, in the Cambodia SEA Games with 58 gold medals – its best overseas performance in the regional showpiece since 1987, when the country captured 59 golds in Indonesia.

Overall, the Philippines captured 260 medals – over 30 more than its 227-medal haul in last year’s SEA Games in Vietnam – as it also grabbed 85 silvers and 117 bronzes.

Traditionally, the host country ends up among the top performers, so the Philippines’ all-time biggest haul came during its hosting in 2019 (149 golds), 2005 (112 golds), and 1991 (91 golds).

Eclipsing the 52-gold loot last year seemed like a remote possibility for Team Philippines, which sat at sixth place in the medal table with 31 golds on Friday, May 12.

But taekwondo, boxing, weightlifting, arnis, kickboxing, and wrestling brought out the big guns as the Philippines bagged 27 golds in the final four days to finish fifth overall behind Vietnam (136 golds), Thailand (108), Indonesia (87), and Cambodia (81).

Arnis, kickboxing, and wrestling particularly shone in the last two days, accounting for 10 of the 12 golds the country won over that stretch.

Tied with taekwondo with the most golds in this SEA Games with six each, arnis produced four in the final two days courtesy of Dexter Bolambao (men’s bantamweight full contact live stick), Maria Ella Alcoseba (women’s bantamweight full contact live stick), Crisamuel Delfin (men’s individual anyo), and Trixie Marie Lofranco (women’s individual anyo).

Wrestling clinched three of its four golds over the same span, with Tina Vergara (women’s freestyle 65kg), Alvin Lobreguito (men’s freestyle 57kg), and Ronil Tubog (men’s freestyle 61kg) ruling their respective events.

Kickboxing then finished strong for the country as Claudine Veloso (women’s K1 -52kg) and Gretel de Paz (women’s low kick -56kg) nailed the Philippines’ 57th and 58th golds a day after Jean Claude Saclag (men’s low kick -63.5) also reigned.

Taewondo, which wound up with just two golds in Vietnam, stepped up in the homestretch with two golds from its poomsae team and four more coming from Kurt Barbosa (men’s -54kg), Samuel Morrison (men’s -87kg), Kirstie Alora (women’s -73kg), and Arven Alcantara (men’s -68kg).

Wrestling finished tied with boxing, gymnastics, athletics, and obstacle course racing for the second-most golds with four, while kickboxing struck three golds like triathlon, jiu-jitsu, and soft tennis.

Swimming, kun bokator, karate, weightlifting, and esports won two golds each and judo, wushu, tennis, and basketball – thanks to Gilas Pilipinas – copped one gold apiece.

Gymnastics star Carlos Yulo emerged as the Philippines’ best performing athlete with two golds and two silvers, while soft tennis’ Bien Zoleta and Princess Catindig also wound up as double gold medalists.

Swimming veteran Jasmine Alkhaldi brought home the most medals with seven after earning four silvers and three bronzes. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.