MANILA, Philippines -- She entered with no expectations and left with two golds.
Wushu athlete Agatha Wong emerged as one of the stars for Team Philippines in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, delivering gold medals in the women's taijiquan and taijijian events.
Expectations were high for the 21-year-old Wong heading into the SEA Games, as she won gold in taijiquan in Kuala Lumpur two years ago, and added a silver in taijijian as well. But the athlete herself refused to get caught up in the hype.
"I don't really expect anything talaga, every time I compete, regardless if it's Asian Games, SEA Games," Wong had said last Sunday, after winning her first gold in taijiquan.
"I actually just wanna be happy, personally, mentally, emotionally. I wanna give my best every day, and I think today I delivered that," she added.
Wong delivered again on Tuesday morning, when she topped the taijijian event at the World Trade Center for her second mint of the SEA Games. She scored a 9.65, edging athletes from Vietnam and Brunei in the process.
Afterward, the soft spoken Wong appeared to be a little overwhelmed.
"Parang hindi pa nagre-register sa utak ko. I'm still trying to think na parang, nanalo ba talaga ako kasi I've been through so much," said Wong.
"I'm very honored to have this opportunity talaga," she added.
Wong stressed that she had no expectations about winning a second gold in taijijian, even though the perennial favorite, Indonesia's Lindswell Kwok, did not compete. The Indonesian star retired after winning a gold medal in the Asian Games last year; Wong got a bronze in the same event.
Wong explained that even without Kwok in the field, she knew she had plenty of challengers.
"Sa wushu kasi, you're not always gonna be consistent about your world rankings or your regional rankings," she said. "Every year, we have to really train hard just to retain 'yung mga kailangan naming level for this year."
"So parang when Lindswell retired, alam ko naman na meron pa akong ibang kalaban na mas matindi, like Vietnam, Japan," she added. "Hindi lang si Lindswell maski siya lagi ang nananalo."
"Lahat may chance manalo and I'm happy to be part of that level."
True enough, Vietnam's Tran Thi Minh Huyen and Brunei's Lachkar Basma gave her a run for her money. Tran, the penultimate performer, got a 9.63, while Lachkar got a 9.62.
Wong's 9.65 was enough to propel her to a second gold medal.
"They're really good opponents," said Wong. "I think it's really just a level of mentality."
"When it comes to wushu kasi, when your mind's troubled, minsan hindi mo din maano yung jumps mo or yung forms mo," she added. "I'm really grateful for this opportunity to represent the Philippines and compete with such great countries."
With two golds in the bag, Wong is now looking forward to getting some rest.
"Mag-hibernate na ako. Marami na akong pinagdaanan this year," she said.
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