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An Asian gymnast performs on rings at the Hanoi SEA Games leading the charge for the Philippines.

Carlos Yulo leads charge as Philippines jostles with Thailand for second place in medal standings of Hanoi SEA Games

Champion gymnast Carlos Yulo continued his stellar showing in the 31st Southeast Asian Games as he won gold medals in the floor exercise and rings events of the gymnastics competition at the Quan Ngua Sports Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam.

As a matter of fact, gymnastics gave the Philippines’ campaign a boost as Fil-American Aleah Finnegan added the women’s vault gold to Team Philippines’ harvest, scoring her second victory after leading the women’s squad to the team title last Saturday, on top of a silver in the women’s all-around.

Also winning gold medal were Kim Mangrobang who added the women’s duathlon title to her victory in the triathlon last Saturday; wushu practitioners Agatha Wong and Arnel Mandal; Fil-Am William Morrison in shot put; and the dancesport tandem of Stephanie Sabalo de Leon and Michael Angelo Marquez in the Latin dance.

The eight-gold haul, which matched the team’s output last Saturday, jacked up the country’s total to 20, the same output of Thailand so far, but the Filipinos have more silver medals – 22 to 20.

Host Vietnam moved out of reach with a haul of 58-41-41, with the Philippines having harvested 20-22-39, Thailand 20-20-37, Indonesia 17-26-16, and Malaysia completing the top five with 16-11-29.

“I’m very happy, I didn’t expect to win. But I’m proud of my performance,” said Yulo, who scored 15.200 in the floor exercise and 14.400 in the rings.

He returns to action Monday, competing in the vault, where he is the current world champion; high bar and parallel bar.

Finnegan, a 19-year-old Missouri native who competed for the US national team that won in the Pan American Games in 2019, scored 13.133 in the vault, spoiling the golden bid of hometown bet of Nguyen Thi Quynh Nhu who settled for the silver with 13.033.

She vies in the floor exercise and balance beam on Monday in the last day of artistic gymnastics action, which has so far propped up the Philippine campaign with five gold and two silver medals.

Less than 24 hours after winning her third straight SEA Games triathlon crown, Mangrobang, 30, became the first Pinoy athlete to capture back-to-back gold medals, ruling the women’s duathlon at the Tuan Chau Peninsula in 2:13.12.

Wong, who lost her stranglehold in wushu’s taijiquan event last Saturday, bounced back with a big victory in the taijijian event, scoring 9.71 points to frustrate two Vietnamese entries at the Cau Giay Gymnasium.

Later in the day, Arnel Mandal made it a double celebration for the Philippines, winning the wushu team’s second gold by beating Laksmana Pandu Pratama of Indonesia in the finals of the men’s 56kg sanda 2-0 to join Wong, a 19-year-old beauty whose smile can melt hearts, on the podium.

Morrison, 25, back to defend the title he won in 2019 in the Philippines, heaved the heavy metal ball to 18.14 meters, way off his former winning throw of 18.38, but way ahead of the Thai second placer who had a throw of 17.32m and the Malaysian bronze winner who had 17.20m.

The victory of De Leon and Marquez in the Latin dance led to one gold, three silver and two bronze production by the country’s dancesport bets.

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