MANILA, Philippines -- Agatha Wong showed no signs of the pressure that she was feeling as she competed in the women's taijiquan event in Southeast Asian Games wushu on Sunday morning, in front of a noisy contingent of Filipino fans at Hall A of the World Trade Center.
Wong was defending the gold medal she won in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, and doing so in front of her countrymen. Already, Brunei's Basma Lachkar had put pressure on her by tallying a 9.55 in her routine; Lachkar won silver two years ago in Malaysia.
As she was two years ago at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, Wong was composed, poised, and graceful. At the end of her routine, she bowed deeply to the judges, and then to the spectators, who cheered wildly as her score was flashed. Her 9.67 put her way above the competition. It was also a hair higher than the 9.66 she scored in Kuala Lumpur.
No one came close to Wong's score the rest of the way; she retained the gold she won in 2017, and delivered the Philippines' second mint of the SEA Games.
For the 21-year-old, the gold was the result of a year of nonstop work for her and the wushu team.
"I just really trained like all year round. Wala kaming holiday or anything," she revealed. "Kaya, lahat kami, we're very fatigued right now, we're very tired."
"Tapos ako, I have really bad cramps pa tapos ang sakit ng katawan ko," added Wong. "Kaya nga kanina, naiyak ako when I hugged my dad, kasi I was really, really relieved na I'm finally finished with my first event."
"Personally, my routine, I just did my best, and I hope that's enough for Team Philippines."
Though she was the defending champion, Wong said she had no expectations for herself heading into the competition. Her mindset was the same as it was in 2017, and in 2018 when she won bronze for the same event in the Asian Games in Jakarta.
"I actually just wanna be happy, personally, mentally, emotionally. I wanna give my best every day, and I think today I delivered that," she said.
"I'm really happy na I delivered the first gold," added Wong. "I have no regrets for today."
Wong is not yet done for the SEA Games, as she will compete in the taijijian on Tuesday, Dec. 3. She won silver in that event in 2017, but will try for a breakthrough gold.
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