PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Joseph Arcilla made history as he clinched a gold medal in the men’s singles event while Bambi Zoleta settled for silver medal in the women’s singles class of the soft tennis competition of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games at the National Olympic Stadium on Wednesday here.
The 37-year-old Arcilla was at his best, beating Muhammad Hemat Bhakti Anugerah of Indonesia, 4-1, in one hour to formally secure the Filipinos’ first ever gold medal in the men’s singles division.
For Arcilla, the key was to keep a positive attitude despite all odds.
“Our psychologist, Ma’am Denise (Ang), would tell us once we enter inside the court, we always need to think positive,” Arcilla, younger brother of veteran SEA Games campaigner Johnny Arcilla, said.
“We prepared for two years for this because we don’t want to go home without a gold medal.”
‘I really want to bounce back in the next SEA Games.’
Bambi, meanwhile, displayed a gallant stand but faltered down the stretch to bow to Dwi Rahayu Pitri, 3-4 (4-7).
“I was at a loss,” Bambi, the pride of Lucena City, said.
“I was almost there and was leading the game. But it wasn’t enough. Maybe my preparation wasn’t enough. I really wanted to defend the gold that my sister won in 2019 and I thought I could do it.”
Bambi said she will bounce back in the next edition of the Game in Thailand in 2025.
“I really want to bounce back in the next SEA Games.”
Still, the netters performance was quite impressive as they topped the six-nation competition with three gold medals on top of a silver and a bronze.
Bien Zoleta and Princess Catindig kicked off the Filipinos’ medal rush after defeating Thailand’s Chatmanee Jankiaw and Napawee Jankiaw, 5-2, in the final of the women’s doubles last Sunday.
Then, Bien and Catindig joined forces with Bambi, Fatima Amirul and Vievernica Bejosano to beat Indonesia, 3-0 in the women’s team event last Tuesday.
The men’s team of Arcilla, Mark Alcoseba, Sherwin Nuguit, Dheo Talatayod, George Patrick Mendoza, meanwhile, settled for bronze medal after a 1-2 loss to Thailand in the semifinals.