(The Philippine Star)
SINGAPORE – Rookie fencer Justin Gail Tinio, playing out of the University of the East, produced the Philippines’ first medal – a sterling silver – after a hard-fought finale of the Southeast Asian Games foil competitions yesterday at Hall 2 of the OCBC Arena.
After finishing third in the preliminaries, Tinio, whose silver medal effort in the Southeast Asian junior competition last January earned her a place in the national team, won all her matches from the quarterfinal round to reach the final where she lost to Singapore’s Wang Wenying, 7-15 (0-3, 4-7, 3-5).
On her way to the gold medal match, Tinio outscored Kyaw May Tinzar of Myanmar, 15-13, in the first round, and Do Thi Anh of Vietnam in the quarterfinal, 15-11.
She advanced to the final with a 15-6 rout of Nguyen Thi Ho also of Vietnam.
The medal came as a source of joy for the fencing squad seeking to win two to three gold medals in the men’s foil and women’s epee events after dismal finishes in previous campaigns. Earlier, compatriot Eric Brando crashed out of the individual saber event with an 11-15 loss to Vietnam in the quarterfinals.
Tinio’s silver was a consolation for Team Philippines which absorbed huge losses in football and netball in the first two days and saw the withdrawal of the entire floor ball team from the SEAG competitions for reasons still unknown to the organizers.
The Under-23 Azkals bowed to host Singapore, 1-0, in the opener and then to Cambodia, 3-1, in the second game.
The netball team also lost to Singapore, 84-12, in the first game.
Tinio’s medal immediately placed the Philippines among the top 5 in the standings behind the 3-2-3 gold-silver-bronze medals of host Singapore, 1-0-3 of Vietnam and 0-1-4 of Thailand.
Richard Gonzales, bronze medal winner in the 2005 SEA Games, also nursed gold medal hopes in table tennis after ousting Vietnam’s Tran Tuan Qyunh, 3-0 (11-3, 11-6, 15-13) of Vietnam in the first round. The quarterfinal and medal round matches will be played today.
The modest gains in fencing and table tennis came before the arrival today of the main bulk of the 462-member delegation for the 12-day competitions which go full blast after the opening ceremonies Friday.
Former world billiards champion Rubilen Amit and an army of tracksters all raring to fight for the gold are among the main batch of the Philippine contingent scheduled to arrive here yesterday and today.
Aside from athletics and billiards and snooker, also arriving yesterday were the teams from boxing, judo, petanque, rugby sevens, sepak takraw, shooting, softball, lawn tennis, triathlon and wushu.
Another 58 athletes and officials will arrive today with gymnastics chief and deputy chief of mission Cynthia Carrion.
They include the remaining members of the shooting team, triathlon and the popular women’s volleyball squad led by Alyssa Valdez, who will be the country’s standard-bearer during opening ceremonies