HANOI, Vietnam — Athletics, billiards and archery provided the spark that kept the Philippines’ stranglehold of third place Wednesday as competitions enter the homestretch in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.
Just as hostilities started to wind down, Kayla Richardson streaked to the fish line in 11.60 seconds to capture the centerpiece 100-meter crown.
One of the racing Richardson twins—the other being Kyla—the new queen of Philippine athletics got a bear hug from father Jeffrey and Kyla for her latest conquest.
Her sparkling gold brought defending champion Philippines’ medal collection to 37-45-59 (gold-silver-bronze) to remain within striking distance of Thailand at second spot with a 47-55-75 tally.
Host Vietnam is the runaway winner with 120-74-71 and those numbers are going to increase by the time the curtains fall on Sunday night.
Billiards artist Johann Chua was not to be outdone as he beat the fancied US Open champion Carlo Biado, 9-6, in the 9-Ball singles.
Chua and Biado are roommates here but they didn’t allow their closeness to hamper their respective bids for the gold.
Biado trailed the eventual SEA Games champion but came up with so many eye-catching shots to the delight of the Vietnamese crowd.
With all his talent, Biado faltered towards the end and Chua pounced on them mercilessly.
A missed open shot by Biado paved the way for Chua to wrap things up as the multi-titled Biado came up with a smile to hide his frustration.
“The chances of those kinds of shots not going in is one in a million,” Chua said.
Archery also made its move by way of the team recurve gold made up of Pia Elizabeth Bidaure, Monica Bidaure and Phoebe Amistoso.
Vietnam settled for runner-up honors while Myanmar was third.
The Philippines is also relying heavily on the boxers and Gilas Pilipinas.
The boxing gold medal bouts take place Sunday alongside the holding of the basketball teams’s last game.
Gilas scored it third straight victory as the PBA-reinforced crew of Chot Reyes sank Singapore, 88-37, at Than Tri Gymnasium.
On other fronts, table-tennis grabbed a silver in doubles while Baby Jessica Canabal, Dave Cea and Kirstie Alora also wound up with silvers. Wrestling also got three silvers.
Karate contributed four bronze medals while fencing and billiards accounted for two each and golf and athletics chipped in one each.
Even with four competition days left before the hostilities end, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) leadership feels the Filipinos are on track in making a podium finish in the medal standings.
“We can do No. 2 or No. 3 because there are still a lot of events left,” POC president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino said at the billiards venue where he presided over the awarding rites.
“It not a matter of numbers (number of golds won) but the final placing in the medal count,” added Tolentino.