MANILA, Philippines—Starting strong and finishing stronger, Pauline Lopez of the Philippines earned a comfortable 10-3 triumph over Cambodia's Chhoeung Aliza to bag the women's under-57 kg gold in Southeast Asian Games taekwondo at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium on Sunday.
With her parents watching from the stands, Lopez, 23, connected on the chest of her taller opponent early in the opening round to take a 3-0 lead she protected to the end to regain the gold medal she won in 2015 in Singapore.
"My parents were watching for the first time in 10 years. So I didn’t want to fail them. I know they prayed hard for my success," said Lopez, who settled for the bronze in Kuala Lumpur two years ago while competing in the 62-kg division.
She padded her lead to 7-2 before Chhoeung scored again, the Los Angeles-born Lopez proved steadier down the stretch.
"I'm very overwhelmed by the cheers of our kababayans. It’s really nice to play in your home town. It was so inspiring," she said.
Lopez was just the first Filipino jin to deliver gold on Sunday.
Dave Cea also reached the top of the podium after beating Thailand's Nutthawee Klompong, 10-5, in the men's under-74 kg finals.
Samuel Morrison won a third straight Games gold after a dominant 30-8 demolition of Malaysia's Joshua Abdullah in the men's under-80-kg class.
Meanwhile, Arven Alcantara (under-68 kg), Laila Delo (under-67 kg), Olympian Kirstie Alora (over-73 kg) and Kristopher Uy (over-87 kg) took home silver.
It was a painful loss for Alora, who succumbed to her Cambodian rival Seavmey Sorn, 12-9, once more. This is the second straight SEA Games that Alora had bowed to Sorn.
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