KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – From a hopeful send-off to a heartbreaking finish.
This is the likely fate of Team Philippines in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as the country mustered only 23 gold medals with just two more days of competition left.
A surprise victory in equestrian courtesy of John Colin Syquia provided the highlight of Team Philippines' campaign on Monday, which saw its lone taekwondo jin in action, Rhezie Aragon, settle for silver, while its lone weightlifter, Nestor Colonia, and its muay fighters, all bombed out of contention.
Syquia's gold was only the Philippines' 23rd gold medal of the 2017 SEA Games.
This development puts tremendous pressure on Olympians Kirstie Elaine Alora and Francis Agojo to deliver a strong finishing kick in taekwondo, and a four-man Philippine squad in the wushu finals on Tuesday.
No matter the result of Tuesday's events, however, it is already certain that the Philippines will badly miss its ambitious projection of 50 gold medals in the 29th SEA Games.
It is also on track to absorb its poorest finish, in terms of gold medal production, in the last 18 years.
The Philippines won only 29 gold medals in the past two editions of the event – in Myanmar in 2013 and Singapore in 2015.
Back in 1999, the Philippines managed to bring home only 20 golds. But in that edition of the biennial meet held in Brunei, only 233 gold medals were at stake. In contrast, a total of 404 gold medals from 38 sports are on the line this year.
Host country Malaysia remains comfortably ensconsced at the top of the medal table with 102 golds, reaching the century mark with a victory in rhythmic gymnastics earlier on Monday.
Thailand (58), Vietnam (54) and Singapore (48) are far behind. Indonesia, the hosts of the Asian Games next year, has 31 gold medals, and it is unlikely that the Philippines can catch up with just two days to go.
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