PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Buoyed up by a double-gold performance in swimming, the Philippines is looking forward to the 19th Asian Games with renewed hope and confidence.
Philippine Swimming Inc. president Lailani Velasco went to social media to trumpet the achievements of the swimmers.
“I recall just about a decade ago, in the early 2010s up until the 2017 SEA Games, our swimming and aquatics programs, in general, were struggling to keep pace with our neighbors. So bad were those years that some call it the dark ages,” Velasco said.
“Today, our neighbors in Southeast Asia continue to commend us for the achievements of our athletes. One can only hope that this means our NSA (national sports association) is actually doing something positive for our athletes and the various programs. The results of the Cambodia SEA Games should be proof that we are heading in the right direction!”
The twin victories marked the first time the Filipinos won more than one gold since 2009 when they came home from Laos with four.
In the next three stagings of the Games, the Philippines failed to win a single gold medal before James Deiparine came through with a victory in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke in New Clark City in 2019.
Last year, Chloe Isleta brought home another gold medal in Hanoi in the women’s 200m backstroke, setting a new national record in the process.
This week, Xiandi Chua and Teia Salvino delivered in Phnom Penh.
Salvino, making her first SEA Games stint, won the women’s 100-meter backstroke with a new Philippine and SEA Games record of 1:01.64.
The Asian record for this event is 57.93 seconds held by Chinese Qin Haiyang.
Chua, a De La Salle University tanker, took home the gold in the women’s 200m backstroke, slicing almost five seconds off Isleta’s winning time last year.
Her winning time of 2:13.20 now stands as the new Philippine and SEA Games record.
With Filipino-Canadian swimmer Kayla Sanchez eligible for the Asian Games this September, national team coach Archie Lim said they have high hopes the Tokyo Olympics silver medalist will be joining the national team.
“I know a lot of our countrymen are looking forward to Kayla joining. But like I said, if she wants to help the national team with the relays, she would need this crew,” Lim said.
“We can see this crew getting up there. Hopefully, the likes of Xiandi and Teia will not just win one gold but win more medals. The other swimmers who got silvers and bronzes can actually start winning the gold so it’s a very bright future for this crew and those coming to the team.”