KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – As she performed in the taijiquan event in the final day of the wushu competition at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, Agatha Wong showed no signs of nerves.
Instead, she was assured and graceful, twirling and landing almost perfectly, keeping her balance as she went through her form in front of an appreciative audience at Hall 5 of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center on Tuesday afternoon.
It was only when her score was flashed on the big screen that Wong's emotions betrayed her.
The 19-year-old student from De La Salle-College of St. Benilde got a 9.66 in the event, putting her in first place with two more competitors to go.
The Burmese athlete who performed after her was also impressive, but managed only a 9.54, and the Lao, who wrapped up the event, failed to medal.
"I got really emotional noong na-flash ang score," Wong told ABS-CBN News after it was confirmed that she won gold for taijiquan. "I almost cried, but I didn't."
It was already the second medal of the SEA Games for Wong, who on Monday settled for silver in the taijijian. She had performed first then, garnering a score of 9.65, and held on to the top spot until the final performer from Indonesia scored a 9.68.
This time around, however, there was no beating Wong even as she said that she treated her triumphant performance as "like every other day in training."
"It's nothing special naman, my routine," she explained. "I've had better forms. But I'd say that today, at least I did my best, and I got the best results."
Growing up, wushu was not Wong's lone sport. Her grandmother enrolled her in a variety of athletic pursuits. She even tried ballet but gave it up – "I'm not that girly," she explained – and focused on both swimming and wushu.
"'Yung wushu, I loved it," she says. "Pero on and off siya. Nagko-compete sila ng interest ko, with swimming and wushu."
Her love for wushu prevailed, however, and Wong focused her attention on the sport that brought her to the top of the podium in the Kuala Lumpur games.
For Wong, wushu is a way of boosting her confidence. She admits that she is not a naturally out-going person, and so stepping onto the carpet to perform in front of an audience and a panel of judges is an act of bravery for her every single time.
"I'm very shy," she said. "So for me to compete in this sport, which requires a lot of guts… it's actually the best sport to ramp up your confidence."
"So kapag nagko-compete ako, tinatapangan ko na lang ang mukha ko," she said. "And I think that helps me a lot for my mentality."
She pays no mind to the other performers, Wong insists, even as she sees them practicing their forms behind the curtains. And once she is done with her performance, it's done – and she will never have any regrets.
"I know I did my best," she stressed. "I know na hindi ko iisipin na, 'I could have done better,' because I always train, every day."
"I think whenever I step in the carpet, I always do my best, and nakikita naman ng audience 'yun sa ginagawa ko," she added.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.